Welcome back to the Healthy Life Podcast... We are beginning our new podcast schedule which are as follows: Mindful Monday - Attitude Challenges, Tip top Tuesday - Exercises & Tips, Welcome Wednesday’s - Interviews, Thirsty Thursday - Nutrition Facts, Fab Friday’s - Questions of the week.
Keeping with our new daily topics mindful Monday suggests we will look at the way we see and understand the role of “caregivers.
For those who have suffered a catastrophic event, whether a stroke, traumatic brain injury , or other event ... we all have people who either chose to or were thrust into the role of caregivers.”
Now when we take that title of “caregivers” apart.... it focuses on “care” (painstaking or watchful attention... a person or thing that is an object of attention, anxiety, or solicitude, to feel interest or concern) and “giver” (one that gives, donates, or provides something). The interesting point that is not made is that this “designation and job” came about at the most challenging and trying time.
Being thrust into that role didn’t come with a manual or notes or a checklist... I worked for years in medicine... first as a paramedic ... then RN... and finally a clinic manager...I was trained... I had a license and yet when my husband found himself in the role of “caregiver” it was the most challenging job he’d ever taken on. He did his best to take care of three young kids, hold down a full time job, and then... try to care for me.
It wasn’t until 3 years after my stroke when I finally received healing of my physical, emotional and spiritual body that I began to understand the challenges that a caregiver faces. When I chose to check myself out of the hospital I was shocked when my husband said he wasn’t sure he wanted me home... he said he didn’t think he could care for me... I was hurt, offended, and dismayed... I felt betrayed and alone. I didn’t consider or think about the fact that his plate was not only full... it was overflowing.
He was on overwhelmed mode and I was adding to it. When a friend or an adult child becomes a caregiver there is a different dynamic at play. When a spouse ends up in that position their relationship goes through hoops it was never quite designed to tackle, let alone survive. They have lost a piece of themselves, their lover, confidant, friend, and sole mate. Over 50% of all strokes result in a divorce of the couple involved. The stroke survivor is quite literally in survival mode and doesn’t always understand or realize the challenges faced by the “caregiver”. For most spouses, unless they are very unique or they have amassed an uncanny skill in communicating, their relationship will never quite be the same. I advise many if not most to get help if their spouse requires a lot of physical support. Why? Because you still want to have intimacy in your relationship and most couples who have to care for a loved one a too great a level will see that relationship torn apart and that intimacy destroyed.
They make too many assumptions and their love for one another is often the victim and that which gets sacrificed. It’s important for the caregiver to have sources or both physical and mental rest built into their schedule. Sometimes hobbies or reading, watching old movies, or listening to music, gardening, or cooking can be mental retreats of sorts. If all we do is care for our loved one we can get burned out. Even parenting has breaks and changes in the job. I remember all too often I would smile at my husband in the middle of a parenting battle and beg him to put me in “time out”... those where the days!
When I left the “employed world” and chose instead to be an at home mom... I chose to become a caregiver of sorts to my children. I left the practice of “medicine” at a high point and chose how and what I would do for the next 20 years. When I suffered my stroke and could no longer do that job it fell to my husband to pick up the slack. Trust me when I say there is no more difficult job than being an unpaid (monetarily) at home mom... the tasks are often thankless, and seemingly unending.... but it was a choice... my husband, on the other hand, had no choice just love for his family, a marriage vow, and fate.
This is when other family members or friends, church or community groups or support groups come into play. They have the ability to act as places for the caregiver to get support, or they provide an opportunity for venting or the ability to be a sounding board. But it is also imperative that we offer support and truth. We point out when we see repetitive negative actions... we need (as caregivers) to open up, have friends and be vulnerable. It is much easier for women than men. Online Support is an exciting venue ... but... this is one area where we have to be very careful with distant support mechanisms. It’s easy to misuse them or hide. To run into the “arms” of others thinking good thoughts that can result in bad consequences or choices.
If you have or belong to an online support network have close friends too... It’s tough enough being a caregiver, let alone not caring for yourself and hiding in a make believe or artificial world. Life can be hard but we all need others (meaning support) to get through it.
Well unfortunately that’s all the time we have for today ... I’m glad we had this chance to focus on caregivers and their needs. There is no more rewarding and yet stressful job on the planet... thanks for joining me today and I look forward to sharing with you tomorrow, ...please feel free to leave me a message at stroke.global or on Facebook @stroke.global, I enjoy seeing them all.
It really is an honor and it’s been a pleasure sharing today and I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast... we keep it brief so it’s easy to add to your day... we want to thank our sponsor TCM Restoration for helping us provide this venue. Feel free to share this podcast with others, offer your feedback and questions and follow us online on our website stroke.global or on our Facebook page. Well I look forward to learning more with you tomorrow.