When a member of the family has breast cancer, the rest of us are so focused on trying to make sure that the patient has all that she needs, at all times, that we sometimes forget that the caregiver (spouse, mother, sister daughter, best friend, partner) also has needs.
So it is real good to see that a whole month has now been designated as a time for recognizing the hard work of caregivers, as well as their own basic need to be acknowledged and supported.
During this time of the year, the holidays beginning with Thanksgiving can really wreak havoc on everyone’s schedules. And though it may be a time to give thanks that our loved ones are still with us, it is also a time to remember that caregivers are now more burdened than ever, trying to juggle doctor’s appointments, prescription pick-ups from the pharmacy, meal preparation for the patient, laundering the linens, and—and the tasks go on and on.
And somebody is supposed to be grocery shopping for all the needed ingredients of a Thanksgiving meal, too? And then the onslaught of Christmas? Yikes!
If you are a caregiver, this is an especially good time to stop trying to be Superman or Wonder Woman. You get no extra brownie points in heaven for trying to be everything for everybody. Remember, too, that if you get sick or exhausted, what then happens to the loved one you are taking care of?
So make a list of all of the tasks that you do. In fact, you might actually need to write them down as you perform them, since you’ve got so many chores that chances are you’ll otherwise forget a lot of them (like picking up stamps so you mail out hospital bill payments on time).
Now write down the names of people—family members or friends—who can help lighten this load by doing some of these tasks for you. (Hey, don’t feel guilty about doing this: They too will be taking their turn as caregiver one day, and you will certainly pitch in then and help them plenty.)
And don’t forget to jot down the names of people who have already asked you how they can help, and who you quickly and stoically informed that you’re “doing just fine, but thanks anyway.”
You’ll have several things of importance to consider:
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