Do you feel like a failure as a Caregiver? If you do, you are not alone! Caregiving is sometimes resisted, often unappreciated, and frequently even unrecognized!
Chris’s sister lived with their mother for several years before their mother’s death. She claimed the role of Family Caregiver to their mother, and when we were at family gatherings, she would talk about how hard she worked to provide care for her mother. Chris’s mother was a vibrant, active senior who still drove, did home-bound visits, staffed a local crisis hotline, and taught Bible study. While we all knew she moved a little more slowly, she did not appear to need anybody’s care, so his sister’s Caregiver claims mostly fell on deaf ears. The family didn’t see her as a caregiver until much later.
There are many ways that Family Caregivers can be sabotaged. Feelings of personal failure, the absence of recognition or appreciation for the challenging work you do, and even your loved one’s resistance to receiving the care you offer can undermine your best intentions to be a great Family Caregiver. If you have experienced any of these things, you might find yourself discouraged and wondering if your sacrifice is worth it.
Family Caregivers make great personal sacrifices when they embrace their role. You might give up such things as time with other family members or friends, professional advancement, monetary gain, vacations, social events, and spiritual growth. Your health may suffer if you aren’t intentional to exercise, eat right, and get enough rest. Social impacts include damage to marriage or friendships and loss of social engagement. Emotionally, feelings of isolation and failure can cause clinical depression. Spiritually, lost opportunities for corporate worship can leave you feeling as if God and your church family have all forgotten about you.
If you allow these negative feelings to persist, your attitudes and behaviors could negatively impact the care you give. Your words might grow sharp and impatient, or your hands might not be so gentle when offering assistance. Before this happens, reach out for help! Take a break and evaluate how well you are taking care of yourself. If others don’t recognize the need for the care you provide, ask for their help and let them experience first-hand what you do during your days. Reach out to your church family and ask for help or prayers for support. As hard as it may be, allow yourself to be vulnerable and admit that you cannot do this alone. Even Jesus asked for help when he needed it, and God will never call you to a task that he will not equip you to complete. Part of that equipping is the provision of resources like tools, techniques, and support from friends or family members. Don’t forget to use those resources when you need them!
The critical thing to remember is to keep yourself fresh, so you can be up for whatever your caregiving day may bring. Chris and I hope you will join the conversation and share your heart about what you do to overcome negative emotions and experiences and keep yourself healthier and happier in providing care!