In the month of May we celebrate the women in our lives! We are the natural caregiver, the mothers, daughters, friends, givers. Always ready to lend a hand, cook a meal, share a celebration and a go to when the chips are down. As providers of the majority of informal care to spouses, parents, parents-in-law, friends and neighbors, we play many roles while caregiving—hands-on health provider, care manager, friend, companion, surrogate decision-maker and advocate. Always giving but is the expectation too much?
I know speaking from experience that the last few months as caregiver to my Mom has been a roller coaster of poor sleep, fast food, missed work, many miles in my car and always checking the phone for messages. Not to mention an emotional roller coaster. I’m exhausted!
The health consequences on our caregivers is heavy. Problems such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, susceptibility to every little cold and flu and even major immune breakdowns such as shingles and pneumonia. As workforce participation increases, caregiving could pose even greater financial challenges for many women workers, due mostly to lost wages from reduced work hours, time out of the workforce, missed promotions, family leave or early retirement.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! After all, like most of you I wouldn’t leave my moms care up to just anybody. We have a big, beautiful, loving, family willing to help. I just need to ask. And I do work at a pretty cool place with health resources to keep me on track. Again, I can’t hide from the fact that I too need some care.
Here’s what this caregiver uses to help me through;
- Let’s start with the obvious. Getting adjusted! I know from first hand experience that it helps stabilize my emotions. My physical body was trembling with anxiety and my state of mind was laughing hysterically at the silliness. Within minutes of the adjustment I was calming down. And it has helped me get some much needed sleep.
- Food. Well…. Lets just say they can put the calorie count on all their drive thru boards. It doesn’t make the choices any better. Keeping a stash of nuts, fruit and bottled water in my car has saved me several times!
- Sleep. On the nights when it is not my friend… I try not to freak out and adjust my following day accordingly. I have had to cancel many obligations and social outings that I just wasn’t prepared to be happy at! My friends understand.
- ASK FOR HELP! A good friend reminded me that it’s ok to say “I’m not ok” I have a great group of family and friends but I have to let them know when and how I need them. Don’t be shy.
So if you know a caregiver, ask how you can help! And if you are one remember, sometimes the caregiver needs to be taken care of!