CareGiver Guide

You can't care for another until you care for yourself…first!

CareGiver Site Overview

Dear CareGivers,
I will strive to be a guide for you in this process called care giving. I say strive, because I know that what I know is only my wisdom. I will actively listen to you to uncover what you want and need.
My credential for being your guide is my experience caring for my mother as she died of an incurable liver disease. I was fortunate to be able to return home to live with her starting in May of 2003 until she died on March 14, 2004.  During that time, I learned as much as I could about how to care for my mother. What I learned is how much I didn’t know.
Since that time, I have continued to think about the time I spent with my mother. I realized she taught me valuable lessons about care giving, though she was unaware that she was teaching me anything.  I have also read a lot about care giving, spoken to dozens of people about their experience as care givers, and attended seminars to learn more about care giving.
I am gathering this knowledge into a book. The purpose of the book is to reduce the stress level of care givers. The one thing I know for certain is care giving is stressful. In the book and through this blog,  I intend to define a different way of being a CareGiver, a way which leads to joy rather than burnout.
The book will also include a section about an issue which I have seen little written: what happens to you when your life as a care giver ceases, either because the person you cared for heals or dies. If there is a death, you have to deal with that grief. That’s been dealt with extensively. But there are two other losses over which you will grieve about which you may remain unconscious. One, you may morn the life you might have lived had you not become a care giver. Two, you may experience a loss of meaning about the life you used to live. The things which you used to strive for may no longer hold the same enticement. Additionally, you may miss the intensity of being involved so intimately in the life of another, of feeling needed.
Unlike many books about care giving, my focus is on you, the care giver, not on the person you are caring for. Until the book comes out,  I offer a few guidelines which may serve you now.
1. How you are being with the person you are caring for is more important than what you do. Never underestimate the value of your just being there.
2. There are many things to do — there is no one, correct path — only the path that works for you and the person for whom you are caring.
3. Build a support team: family, friends, specialists in the field. Don’t make the mistake that I did of trying to do it on your own, even when you know you can. Involve others.
4. This journey you are starting is a privilege. Honor it — and yourself. Along the way, know you will have times when you are sure you cannot take another step. Also, know that you can. The journey will be one of great growth for you and at some some point, you will find joy in it.
5. Take care of yourself at all times. Find ways to make at least part of the journey fun for you and the person for whom you are caring. Yes, there are ways to make it fun. Create a way to get away from the caring, even if it just a ‘happy hour’ with people who will not remind you of your caring role. Go someplace where people don’t know you, if you have to.
Peace & Joy
Richard J Anastasi

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