The best place to start is with a plan, no matter what we are doing. Objectives and goals can keep us on target and ease some of the unforeseen problems that will arise. But how do you make plans when you are about to embark on something you have never done before and possibly not even thought about before?
Start with you. The best advice given as I started my caregiving journey with my husband was from a friend. She said, “You need to step back from this emotionally and look at this whole situation clinically. If you look at it emotionally, it will eat you up.” More valid words were never spoken! That is the best place to start—step back and look at your journey as a nurse would look at your spouse or loved one. This caregiving rollercoaster of emotion is going to be daunting! But you can do it because you have what it takes!
Plan A, Part 2
You will not be the only one who will be experiencing emotions. A care receiver will be losing their abilities and feel regret and fear. Loss of independence is a likely incident.
The care receiver’s emotions will come out in various forms, but often it is anger and harsh words about the caregiver’s incompetence. After you have sacrificed and helped in ways you may find difficult, harsh words come across as, “You’re not doing enough! You have let me down! You only think about yourself!” I want to say, YOU ARE ENOUGH, AND YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES! Please don’t ever forget that! I can tell you that you won’t do everything right and that’s okay. If your loved one is terminal, you will likely second guess yourself for years—-wondering did I do enough, did I ask enough questions of the doctors, should I have done something other than what I did? My advice is to plan to know what you can about their condition and then do what’s in your heart.
I’ll talk more about this part of the plan in later blogs. The most important thing right now is that you build your confidence and prepare yourself for caregiving’s ups and downs.
Build a support group of family and friends that can give you relief when life gets tough. Some cities have Day Centers for adults with caregivers and programs to provide your loved one a break too.
Plan A, Part 3
After my husband passed away, I did some home healthcare. I found my experience was helpful to spouses and family who were primary caregivers. I also learned from them. One husband who had tucked away money for enjoying retirement spent his savings redoing a bathroom for handicap accessibility and future cleaning and sanitizing. Not everyone has that sort of money saved or the ability to have it done. Assess what you do have the finances to do.
Go to your local home medical care facilities. Once your loved one has been diagnosed, and you have familiarized yourself with their possible progress, think ahead with a home medical store so you can know what is available as needs arise. There are many helps, from clothes for easy dressing and comfort to equipment to save your back or your loved one’s insecurities. Check with Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance about what they will cover.
Some quotes to remember:
Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows but only empties today of its strength. Charles Spurgeon
You can’t get second things by putting them first. You can get second things only by putting first things first. C. S. Lewis In other words, don’t get the cart before the horse.