What’s Your Why?

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Why are you a Family Caregiver? It’s a question that creeps up on most family caregivers when they least expect it. It may slide out of the darkness in the middle of a sleepless night after a particularly tough day, or sneak in one quiet afternoon when everything seems to be going reasonably well. Wherever it comes from, the question demands self-reflection and grace.

Most family caregivers never saw this kind of future when they were younger. Did your mom or dad care for your grandparents or much older siblings? If so, you might have grown up in a family that modeled taking care of each other on this level, but those situations become rarer with each generation. When women entered the workforce after World War 2, the dynamics of family caregiving went through massive changes for young children and aging relatives alike.

Today’s family caregiver is often caught unawares by the sudden need to devote their days to caring for an aging parent or relative. When this path is thrust upon you suddenly and unexpectedly, there is no time to prepare, or even to put a strategy in place that will keep you healthy and well-balanced while keeping a loved one safe and happy. It’s kind of like becoming a juggler overnight!

Most of us can describe what we do in our day-to-day life, and many of us can explain how we do those things, but if you don’t know why you are a caregiver, you can rapidly lose your focus, purpose, and drive!

Caregiving, as an obligation, yields no positive attributes. Angry, purposeless family caregivers feel frustration, resentment, hopelessness, or even anger, and all of these negative emotions can lead to a toxic environment that isn’t healthy for anyone involved. Family conflict can arise, your health can break down, and your loved one may feel guilty, sad, depressed, or even wish their life could end so you can return to yours. Nobody wins when the family caregiver lives in this state of emotional and mental exhaustion.

Purpose-driven caregiving, on the other hand, can be gratifying to the family caregiver who is energized and truly feels that they are accomplishing good things and making a real difference in the life of their aging parent or relative. Having a clearly defined “why” will help you stay engaged, overcome the bad days, and demonstrate the deep love you feel through your words as well as your actions. With purpose as your motivator, you will be a better family caregiver overall. AgingCare.com shares some other rewards of family caregiving here.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about why you are a family caregiver.

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