When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

It’s been some time since I wrote a post that dealt with being a caregiver and helping an aging relative or parent. Though my mother has died and the focus of my life altered, I still read about caregiving and I often advise my friends who are now where I used to be. My desire to help, to make a stressful and yet it’s-part-of-life experience easier to navigate is strong. I want people to use me as a sounding board for questions about the entire process: how to take the car keys away, how to protect monetary resources by taking over the checkbook, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of dementia, how to talk to someone with dementia, drugs that can often help dementia patients, the difference between palliative care and hospice care—and much more.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I know the entire learning process is ongoing. So when I’m helping a friend and we’re talking about what happens when your parent breaks a hip or the ins and outs of senior housing or just basic things like how to stay healthy when the person you are caring for is in a health crisis—I can advise them to access the AARP Caregiving Resource Center. 

The site is jam-packed with well-written articles that offer advice on a wide variety of topics like these:

1Caregivers Tips for the Holidays

2. Ten Ways for Caregivers to Nurture Themselves

3. Easing Age-Based Sibling Rivalry in Caregiving

There is even a Community page where you can find support and help for individual problems and questions. It’s a place where other caregivers share, get and give advice.

Even before the caregiving journey began for my brothers and me, my mother gave us an amazing gift. While still healthy and before she needed to enter a senior facility—she purchased a Long Term Care policy. That economic benefit was an enormous help as her care needs increased.

I have a Long Term Care policy—the importance of purchasing such a policy was one of the things I learned from being a caregiver. It’s very important to plan for the time when you will be the receiver of help and not the giver. Think about your own financial situation and check out this link from AARP, which discusses the process.

My mother was a giver who dedicated her life to caring for and loving her family. But one day we exchanged places and I was called upon to do the caring. It was sometimes a daunting task, as I lived five hours away from her. Debbie became me—a caregiver who lovingly provided hands-on care. She gave me peace of mind and we stayed on the same page through emails and phone calls. But in the end, the major decision-making fell to my brothers and me. We did everything we could to keep Mom comfortable and then to let her die in peace when she knew it was her time. May blessings always shower my dear mother and all the women and men who daily provide care. Every caregiver is on a continuum—learning something new every day. Every caregiver needs love and help from another family member or a friend. It’s a circle–and we all must join.

I’m pleased to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.

(Read How to Care for Caregivers here.)

Watch a video of singer Amy Grant providing tips for caregiving here.  

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

It’s National Caregiver Month

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

Thanks to Google Images



4 thoughts on “When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

  1. The days of taking care of our mother, were often very difficult, yet always rewarding. Somewhere behind the age and dementia, there always showed that glimmer of light who was Mom until she left us for heaven. Take comfort in that, and know the rewards for loving ones parent, go on forever, just as their love for you will stay with you always.

    • Wonderful thoughts. We were fortunate. For some caregivers it’s a daily struggle that changes their lives completely. In the LA TIMES this morning a great piece on how to HELP caregivers–so that they don’t get sick or give up.

  2. Both my parents and my husband’s parents are gone and we were so blessed that none of them required care. Even though my mom-in-law was 95 she was upset they took her drivers license away. I trust I will not require my daughter to care for me as well. Must be in our genes because are all my uncles were close to 100 and still lived without assistance

    • Hi Carol–genes certainly do play a huge role in how we age and what care we will need. My mother lived to be 97 and her sister 96, but both of them developed dementia in their early 90s. The only thing I can say is that in health it’s a cascade. If you are in some accident and break bones and become immobile, other stuff can happen. It’s called life and I guess loving families can deal with it–because if you need her, your daughter will be there. Take care, Beth

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