You’ve been care giving for at least two years or more. Some days you have a hard time remembering what your life used to be like while you still had freedom. The exhaustion, the difficulties, the constant minefield of health care, dealing with uncooperative siblings, etc. and the list of what can get you down goes on and on.
What happened? You’re still relatively young. You may be in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and this was supposed to be the fun time of your life. The time when you could relax from the responsibilities of raising your children, or the demands of your job. You were supposed to be traveling to all those places you had dreamed about. Instead, you can’t even find two hours to put together to go to the mall.
Here’s an important point. Caregiving is painfully hard grueling work. Okay, I’ve said it. Just admitting it makes me feel better.
What we’re doing everyday, hour by hour is competing in our own Olympics of care giving. We’re sprinting, lifting weights, running a marathon and sometimes we’re even drowning in an Olympic sized pool of worry and work. There won’t be any gold metals for us; not that we expect them.
What is it that we do want?
We want to go to a ballgame, visit with friends or go to the mall. We want to do something for ourselves.
We’re tired of watching others in our families always going out, staying at their vacation homes, entertaining their friends, while criticizing our care giving. Another side note is every hour we’re taking care of our aged parents, is an hour we’re not earning our own living. Do the others realize that?
Why am I saying all of this?
I’m tired, just as many of you probably are. Some of us haven’t had a vacation in four years. Is there a real solution that’s practical?
Start simple with a little time for yourself. That is not being selfish. In fact, it’s very unselfish because you’re top job now is to stay healthy physically as well as emotionally. If you go down, everything falls apart for your parents’ care. Your family, especially those brothers or sisters who rarely help you know that all too well.
Make an announcement to your family. “I’m taking next Friday afternoon off. There are some things I need to do. I’ll give you plenty of time to take your turn to come and stay with Mom or Dad but I’m going out.”
Practice in front of the mirror if you have to, but do it. Results? Most likely they’ll come around. Yes, there will be some surprise. After all, you usually don’t speak to them like that. Perhaps they’ll appreciate you more, especially after they spend the afternoon doing what you do everyday.
A few hours out with healthy people who are energetic at the ballgame or the mall will do you loads of good. You need to get away from your care giving, period. Try it and leave the guilt at the door.