We caregivers see a lot of doctors. Many of us can perform tasks that used to be relegated to licensed medical personnel, and for that vast number of caregiving mothers, "Dr. Mom" has taken on a new levels.
Caregivers learn a lot about healthcare, but application of that knowledge for our own health — is a different story. Most caregivers regularly take someone else to see a physician — but when was the last time we saw ours?
Sometimes we get so tired of taking someone else to a doctor's office, that the thought of going to another one (or taking time off work ... again!), well, it's just too much. Those "sandwich" Moms caring for parents and their own family are stretched mighty thin, and carving out several hours for a doctor visit gets pushed to the back burner.
Maybe the feeling is that the loved one can't leave them alone — there can be a myriad of reasons: health insurance, etc. I've heard every excuse, and, as a caregiver for three decades, I've given most of them. The reality doesn't change.
Regardless of the reasons WHY we don't see our own doctor, there are still two nagging questions we caregivers must face:
1. What good are we to our loved one if we stroke out, if we have heart disease, get diabetes, or some other malady?
2. Who is in line to care for our loved one if we are out of the picture — either for a short term illness or a long term issue ... or worse?
These two questions will persist into the national dialogue as the massive baby-boomer population requires increasing care. Currently, a vast number of caregivers are already in the danger zone for their own health, and the majority of those are caregiving mothers.
For Mother's Day, how about the gift of health for that weary mother who runs back and forth to an assisted living facility? What about that mother caring for a child with special needs?
The challenges of caregiving can be daunting and relentless, and saps that caregiver of a desire to fix a healthy meal, much less schedule time to go to yet another doctor visit. Yet that visit could very well save a life — hers.
May is not the only month to focus on caregiving mothers, but it's a good month to start. It is often hard to know how to help a caregiver — we're high functioning multi-taskers who seem to take it all in stride.
But our hearts … and our bodies take a beating.
For Mother's day, send the flowers and a card, but include a note letting Mom know that HER health is important to you — so important that you will make arrangements for her to see her primary care doctor. Maybe she just needs a reminder. Maybe she needs more — like paying for the co-pay/visit if she can't. It may require working out someone to sit with that loved one while she keeps that doctor appointment. However it looks, help those caregiving Moms!
Most of us have made it this far because Mom got us to the doctor at critical points in our lives. If Mom is a caregiver, then this is a critical point in her life.
Helping her to make healthy choices is a wonderful way to let her know how important she is, and that her presence is desired for many more Mother's Days!
Originally posted at cuppa.io.
His weekly radio show for caregivers is on Nashville's WLAC -1510 ( Clear Channel).