What I wish I knew about family caregiving early on is that the 24/7 ongoing responsibilities never let up. We do many things for our elders in the caregiving years.
We rush to the hospital in the middle of the night and we spend countless hours making telephone calls; we cook and clean up and we make sure they take their medications; we listen to them complain and we take them shopping for shoes; we watch television with them for hours and we sit quietly as they doze.
As family caregivers, we do what we have to do with the understanding that we have no way of knowing what’s in store for us and how we’ll cope. If you are caring for an aging parent or loved one then you know what I am talking about.
What if you could go back in time, and give your younger caregiver-self a bit of advice on the caregiving and eldercare process – what would you say?
I’ve changed from the person I was when I began to manage the care of my parents to the person I am today. Caregiving is fully integrated into my life – personally and professionally — and the lessons I’ve learned along the way (and the ones I’m still learning) are something my younger caregiver-self would surely like to know.
Here is my number one favorite bit of advice: Never underestimate the power of a creative outlet. Feed your joy. Do something you love doing. Put creative time on your calendar; then show up. 15-minutes is good enough if that’s all the time you’ve got.
What holds you back from doing something creative? If it is the fear that your creative pursuit is not be good enough or you believe that that what you create is useless or ugly – stop judging yourself. You are taking a step most people are too afraid to do. Give yourself the credit and love you deserve.
Start something. Anything. Do what you enjoy. Here are a few creative tasks to consider:
- Write – a poem, a short-story, a novel, letter
- Cook – a recipe you’ve been saving for special times (like now)
- Photography – nature, pets, babies, old people, friends
- Day-dream – sit on the porch or in the park and stop thinking too much
- Paint – a canvas, one wall in a small room, a piece of furniture
- Clean – a closet, a drawer
- Dance – remember that nobody is watching
- Sing – crank up the volume and belt out your favorite songs