Throughout our caregiving journey, we are developing so many new skills and collecting more resources than we know what to do with.
It can feel like we are getting our ‘masters in caregiving’ and preparing to write a thesis!
Getting her ‘masters’ was an expression that Colleen Kavanaugh, Certified Caregiving Consultant, used to explain why after a decade of caring for her own parents she decided to pursue a career in caregiving.
Each month, I have a one-on-one call with a caregiver in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community. I call each of these recorded conversations a ‘Caregiver Spotlight’. I started these because each caregiver journey is unique and I know every time I talk to another caregiver I learn something new and I leave that conversation knowing I’m not alone and feel a little bit stronger.
This month, I spoke to Cindy who lives in Georgia with her husband and two daughters. Cindy knows the challenges well of helping to care for aging parents out-of-state while juggling a job and being involved in your children’s busy lives. Cindy helped her mom care for her dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s. He passed away 3 years ago. Cindy is currently the primary caregiver for her mom who lives in Florida and she is planning to move her mom close by. This is no easy task since her parents had a independent business and lived in their home for 48 years. (more…)
Sometimes you just have to laugh at your caregiving situation. A little caregiver humor can go a long way! When my sisters and I were packing my mom and moving her from her assisted living in Georgia to my sister’s home in Pennsylvannia, we created a group text called ‘It’s a Great day to give care’ (this is Susie’s mantra that she adapted from Grey’s Anatomy mantra ‘it’s a beautiful day to save lives’) and in this group text there are tons of random little texts that start with ‘You know you are a caregiver when…’.
A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles. – Mignon McLaughlin
Each time I read one of the texts or added my own, I knew that smiles where occurring and the day was looking a little brighter. It’s a fun game to play when you are in a thick of some crazy, can’t make this s&%t up caregiver situation, and you are challenged to flip it on its side or upside down to discover the humor. As caregivers we can’t change what happens to us but we can change and own how we react to situations. Choosing to find the caregiver humor in situations will help you stay sane.
Ready for some caregiver humor?
I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ‘You know You are a Caregiver’ texts that were exchanged between me and my sisters:
What do you give a caregiver to show them you care and are thinking about them? What they really want is more time and available hands to call when they are needed . But in our society where the demand of our time far surpasses the supply, it’s a struggle to be that helper we want to be to those caregivers we love. Often times, I have heard the phrase, ‘Please let me know how I can help.’ I never even knew how to reply to that statement. It may be well meaning but it’s not actionable. Being a caregiver is tough stuff. Often times caregiving is emotional draining and physically straining. There are usually no warning signs when a caregiving crisis is approaching. It’s reactive, urgent, and stressful. We don’t know when or if things will improve and often times we know that our situation will probably get worse before it gets better . When a loved one has a disease or a chronic illness, the whole family is impacted in some way. As caregivers, we all have those days, weeks, or even months when we feel like we are on a treadmill and no matter how hard we try to stay on top of it, the plates and pieces we are juggling fall and it feels like no matter how much we give it’s never enough.
I think a gift that continues to remind an overwhelmed caregiver that they are enough is a great gift.
‘We’re out of tricks.’ This is the phrase I used when talking to my two out-of-town sisters about the need to find a better living situation for mom…again. Mom has been in two different assisted living communities in the past year and half, since my dad has passed. Neither place has been a fit and frankly I don’t think any of them will.
Profound, right? I thought so. This simple statement slapped me upside the head when I heard this from Dawn, the owner and creator of a nonprofit organization called ALOHA (A Life Of Healthy Aging). Dawn’s organization visits my mom’s new assisted living community monthly to offer support to resident’s families.
Dawn followed this statement with a question: ‘who is your mom?’ and challenged me to find out. I definitely know who I want her to be – I want her to be me! But, even though she has been my mom for 44 years, I still have some detective work to do in order to answer this question. (more…)
Growing up, I never pictured myself as a working mom. I knew I would work before having kids but figured I’d be a stay home mom, just like my mom was for us. I know my husband may feel somewhat responsible for me not being a stay home mom but frankly he’s not the reason I am still working.
What is a sequencing mom?
A “sequencing” mom typically earns a college degree, starts a career, and decides to take a planned break
from the workforce in order to raise young children and then returns to their careers years later.(more…)
When people ask me how I’m really doing (not just a drive by how you doin’) it’s hard to put into words what this season of my life feels like. This season where I’m being sandwiched between being the encouraging, present, and fun mom I want to be for my kids AND being the caring, respectful, and motivating daughter I want to be for my mom. Oh, yeah and somewhere in this mix I want to be a romantic, loving, and supportive wife and a fit and healthy woman who successfully juggles a full time rewarding career and builds a mission rich profitable business on the side! Feels crazy just writing it all out. Like you, I want it all and I want life to feel harmonious. It’s a big order to fill.
If you give a bird a worm
Since it’s difficult to describe a sandwiched life, I thought I’d try an analogy. I often tell people that life is like a puzzle and you just have to figure out how all the pieces connect but reflecting on this now, this analogy is just way too simple. After all, when you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle you have the luxury of evaluating one piece at a time. What I feel, and probably many of you do, is the constant pulling of different important and competing priorities that frankly are never satiated. A better analogy for a mom in the sandwich generation is to think of a nest of hungry baby robins with mom flying back and forth to keep everyone well fed. (more…)
August 4th was the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. Rather than focusing on his last day, I am choosing to focus this post on the Saturday just prior to his passing, where we threw a party in the hospice room to celebrate his life. When I reflect on this memory, I feel so grateful that we had this opportunity to tell dad how much he meant to us, share memories, and prepare as a family to say good-bye. I know that many families have not had this opportunity.