Passionate About Being A Caregiver
I am passionate about being a caregiver. For more than twenty years, I was a family caregiver which led to a 20+ year career as a professional caregiver. Not many people think of caring for elderly parents as a passion. Being a caregiver is not for everyone.
One of my repeated sayings is that only a caregiver can understand the life and the experiences of another caregiver. How many people wonder what’s good about being a caregiver?
The Unexpected Caregiver
Most caregivers are unexpected caregivers. Caregiving is an unexpected journey filled with joys, challenges, and tears.
Becoming a caregiver results from feelings of love, duty, and responsibility—love for elderly parents, a spouse, or another family member. This love and being passionate about being a caregiver is what keeps caregivers going long after frustration and burnout occur.
Caregiving is work. Only another caregiver understands the personal qualities and skills that it takes to be a caregiver. Caregiving tasks begin innocently with a request to pick up a prescription or shop for an item. Suddenly, caring for an elderly parent becomes a part-time and then a full-time job. The time devoted to caring for an elderly parent can exceed the time devoted to a full-time job and extend for years.
Caring for Elderly Parents
Caring for elderly parents may expand to be a full-time job. The health condition of an elderly parent and the amount of help necessary to remain at home contribute to the time devotion. As elderly parents age, the desire to remain at home—instead of moving to a nursing home or a care community—becomes stronger. Being passionate about being a caregiver is how adult children help elderly parents stay at home.
Elderly parents experience a sense of losing control over many aspects of life. As elderly parents do less physically for themselves day by day, the idea of needing help from family becomes a reality. A loss of independence follows.
Where previously elderly parents lived independently on their own schedules, daily interruptions become more frequent. Calls from family caregivers to check in happen on a regular schedule. More frequent doctor appointments may be scheduled. An inability to perform activities of daily living without help means that adult children frequently visit if not daily.
Help with Activities of Daily Living
In addition to errands and shopping, help with activities of daily living become one of the next areas where elderly parents need help. Caring for an elderly parent may grow to include caregiving tasks like help with bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring.
The idea of safety becomes more important as a fall may result in a serious injury. Falling for elderly parents often results in leaving home for a nursing home or an assisted living community. Discussions about safety between elderly parents and adult children caregivers can be stressful and challenging.
Adult children worry about caring for elderly parents and injuries. Elderly parents may be more concerned with trying to maintain independence even in the face of potential risk. These discussions are part of The Caring Generation podcast called, Dealing with Stubborn Aging Parents.
Worrying about elderly parents is part of becoming passionate about being a caregiver. Caregiver worry can sometimes result in becoming overly controlling of care situations. As elderly parents have a sense of losing control, caregivers desire to take more and more control of situations to avoid the unexpected. When this happens, being passionate about being a caregiver may benefit from a balanced perspective.
Finding Humor in Losing Control
The opportunity for comedy and laughter exists when caring for elderly parents. I don’t know how many of you remember the 1950’s and 1960’s television series Get Smart, I Love Lucy, and Bewitched. The replays can be found on cable television and the YouTube channel. These comedies offer a mental get-a-way from caregiving worry to help caregivers regain perspective.
Caregivers take themselves and situations too seriously when caregiving tasks feel overwhelming. Laughter results in a stress release that makes challenging caregiving days feel less perplexing. Trying to see humor in caregiving situations is beneficial for all family members involved.
Laughter and comedy are beneficial when caring for elderly parents and persons recovering from illness. When we laugh at situations instead of finding them frustrating, the idea of losing control brings light-heartedness into stressful days. Bringing joy and laughter into caring for elderly parents makes being passionate about being a caregiver less of an effort.
Comedy and laughter have health benefits. Stress and blood pressure levels decrease. Comedy and laughter result in a more positive outlook on life. Passion about being a caregiver increases when caregivers laugh more, worry less, and can balance the challenges of day-to-day situations.
Being Passionate About Taking Care of Loved Ones
Caregivers experience a sense of personal reward from helping elderly parents and loved ones stay at home. The hours that caregivers devote to caring for elderly parents quickly add up. Many family caregivers devote an additional 20-40 hours after working a full week at a paying job.
The results that caregivers witness from being a caregiver are the personal reward — elderly parents who stay at home because of the help of family caregivers. Watching the improvement or stabilization in the health of a parent who was previously declining is a reward for the effort and time exerted to create this change.
Blessing and Prayers for Caregivers
How many people have jobs that are loved? How many people are excited to go to work every day? Caring for elderly parents is a passion when the caregiver loves the work. The work of family caregivers and professional caregivers who work in healthcare settings or care communities is priceless.
Caregivers often ask for blessings and prayers so that they can continue to caregive in spite of the daily challenges. Being a caregiver is not easy, even though passion is driving the work. There are days when elderly parents or patients are unkind because of not feeling well. On difficult days, caregivers may be on the receiving end of abuse and refusals to participate in care.
There are other days when the healthcare system seems at odds with the work that caregivers attempt to complete. Days when insurance approvals for prescriptions are late or delayed. Situations where doctor appointments take hours longer than planned, or when a promised phone call with an anticipated test result never comes.
Blessings and prayers for caregivers caring for elderly parents are needed — especially caregivers in difficult family situations and those in workplaces that do not recognize family caregivers. Professional caregivers face different workplace challenges due to the volume of work to be completed.
High-pressure workplaces with long lists of tasks, or where supervisors are non-supportive can be challenging. Caregiver burnout occurs at all levels of experience, needs, and seniority.
The Meaning of a Servant’s Heart
Many caregivers have a sense of a greater purpose or a calling. Some caregivers report having a servant’s heart. The meaning of having a servant’s heart is being helpful to a person no matter their circumstances and having compassion and a desire to help.
The meaning of a servant’s heart is when life becomes more about what we give to others than what we receive from others. Listening and empathy are traits of passionate caregivers who have a servant’s heart and are motivated to do the right thing. The idea of having a servant’s heart can result in burnout if the caregiver is unable to set boundaries and create a work-life balance.
Doing the right thing means not always taking the easy road. Extra patience and compassion in caregiving situations result in caregivers taking the right actions to support independence.
How much easier would it be to rush through a morning routine instead of allowing an elderly parent to do as much for him or herself as possible? The balance between supporting and maintaining independence—instead of taking over—is a complicated negotiation between caregivers and elderly parents who need care.
Dealing With Negative Elderly Parents
Elderly parents who begin losing control of their daily lives benefit from doing as much for themselves as possible. While elderly parents can be viewed as negative by adult children when they attempt to maintain control, this negativity can be a positive trait.
No one wants to be the person who gives up or who doesn’t care. Apathy is a sign of more troubling health issues like memory loss or depression. Small tasks like doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, going outside to get the mail, and others should be continued as long as possible. These activities give elderly parents a reason to get out of bed every day.
Praise should be given to elderly parents who keep going and who keep trying day after day. The same praise is owed to passionate caregivers who keep going regardless of the situation.
These Are the Days We Will Remember
When loved ones are gone, the days of being a caregiver are the days that will be remembered with fondness. We can’t turn back the clock to regain love or laughter. Love, laughter, and positive memories about caring for elderly parents can carry us forward through challenging days.
We will all need care from another person someday. All we can hope is that a passionate caregiver—family or professional—will be in our life to provide laughter, joy, and the care that we need.
Looking for More Help With Being A Caregiver? You’ll Find What You’re Looking For in The Caring Generation Library Section Caring for Me
© 2019, 2021 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.