Life after Caregiving
By Pati Bedwell, Elder Care Coordinator
Up until recently, I’ve never really thought of caregiving as a temporary job, but the reality is, it is. When we take on the role of caregiver for our elderly loved ones, we think we’re going to help them stay home or stay out of a nursing home. What we usually don’t think is that we’re taking on this role to help our elderly loved one through and to the end of their lives. It’s a little sobering when you think about it like that, isn’t it?
A lot of caregivers spend months and months–even years–caring for their loved ones and the time is a little like a roller coaster. Some days are great, like the view from the top of a roller coaster. Some days feel like the downward plunge when the bottom drops out. On other days, you’re just coasting along and things are going fine. As the caregiver, you are privy to minute changes that occur and, unless there is a significant event like a fall or a heart attack, it makes sense that you will be the one to notice your loved one inching closer to the finish line.
We should all be talking with our loved ones about what they want during the remainder of their life. We should also be talking with them about how they want to approach death. What kind of treatment do they prefer? What don’t they want? Knowing these things will help us ensure that our loved one’s wishes are honored, which is one of the last ways we can show our love and respect for them.
When the inevitable happens and our loved one has passed away, we know what to do . W know who to call and what to do next. What family caregivers don’t always think about is themselves and how the dying of their loved one is going to affect them and the rest of their life. It’s important to give this some thought.
Many family caregivers don’t think about the aftermath of caregiving and how that may affect them, but the effects on your life are much like they were at the beginning of the caregiving journey. Your life, once again, is on shaky ground as you try to figure out how to reclaim the existence you had prior to taking on caregiving responsibilities. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure you never completely lose touch with your friends, your family, your coworkers, and the hobbies and interests you’ve always had. So, as you take on caregiving responsibilities, don’t forget to take time for yourself and your life interests to help ensure an easier reentry into your pre-caregiving life.
If you have any questions about caring for elderly loved ones, please give our office a call at (615) 824-2571.