Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes. They range in age from very young to ancient! They come from all walks of life, and they are known for their kindness, generosity, and their caring heart.
The heart of the Caregiver feeds their passion for caring for others. It is this unique characteristic, this overpowering drive, that pushes a Caregiver out of their comfort zone from a very early age. They hold doors open as children or have special relationships with grandparents and elderly neighbors. As they grow older, they nurture friendships and develop close bonds with those around them. At work they are known as good listeners, and colleagues who are always willing to pitch in and lend a helping hand when needed. Others know that a Caregiver can be counted on to be a great team player. If married, they might care for spouses, parents or grandparents, in-laws, neighbors, and their own children. There is no retirement age for caregiving. Caregivers are loving, nurturing individuals who enrich our lives and influence our society in innumerable ways.
Many Caregivers find themselves needing to become more involved in providing care for aging parents or other family members as they get older. This brings a special set of challenges. Caring for a parent or relative might need to be long-distance if the Caregiver lives in another city. A family member might be resistant to receiving care, or might be embarrassed or uncomfortable with a son, daughter, or grandchild providing the needed care. The family Caregiver might not even be properly trained to provide the services needed, or might not be able to take time off from work to meet the care needs of local family members. These and many other challenges can be overcome, but only if they are recognized and appropriately addressed.
My brother is a family Caregiver, and I would never have guessed this when we were children, mostly because I was too self-absorbed! He had close friendships growing up, and became a compassionate and caring man as a friend, father, and business owner. His community knows that they can count on him when they need help with any number of things. His friends know that he won’t let them down. And he cares for our mother, now in her late nineties, every day. He coordinates care through the local Home Instead office to cover several hours each day. The professional CAREGiverSM assists my mom with bathing, dressing, errands, housework and meals. She then leaves in the afternoon, and my mom is alone for a few hours. Every evening my brother comes by and visits for a while, just to check in and make sure the day has gone well. My mom presents a number of challenges for my brother, but he overcomes them as they arise, and my mom still lives in her home where she has been for over 50 years. I travel 400 miles every month to spend a few days to a week, and give my brother a break. I appreciate my brother for his caring heart. The care he gives our mother, provided both personally and professionally, gives her independence, and it gives me peace of mind when I live so far away.
So, are you a Caregiver? If you answered yes to this question, then we salute you for the important role you play in your family, your community, and your world. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many people around you! You should feel proud of every smile, every “thank you”, every sigh of relief or appreciative gesture you generate as you move through your day, helping others as you go. Your acts of service honor God even as they help those you care for.
If you believe that you are NOT a Caregiver, then think of the Caregivers who have helped you along the way. Take a little time today and in the days ahead to reflect on people in your life who are Caregivers. Share your appreciation for the ways their care has helped you. Say thank you. In those two simple words, you will be caring for a Caregiver, and in that one small act you will share the care!