As a caregiver, it is very easy to become so focused on your responsibilities and the person you are caring for that you ignore your own duties, health, friends, hobbies, etc. I read this great To Do list on a caregiving website recently and it rings true. Yet, how do you find the time, the energy, or even the desire to pull yourself out of the caregiving for a short period to pursue these ideas?
Always remember to take care of yourself.
Remember to reward yourself.
Have some personal time.
When things don’t go the way you planned, get help.
Last but not the least, protect your health.
I will be honest, it is near impossible to do on your own. Your life and mind become so clouded with the caregiving that you can fail to even see that you need help or that you are burning yourself out. And that is what I want to talk about today, those who care for the caregiver. I love this quote form Maya Angelou, “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” If it were not for others encouraging, challenging, and supporting me in my role as caregiver, then I wouldn’t be able to sustain the care that I provide to my wife. This blog is a thank you to those who care for me as a caregiver and to encourage you who are also caregivers to find your support structure and thank them as well.
My Wife – Just as much as I care for my wife with her Multiple Sclerosis, she cares for me. Of anyone, she empathizes and understands the most that she needs me in good physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health if I am to be the best caregiver I can for her. She encourages me to find personal time, to pursue my hobbies, and to keep myself healthy. But she cannot do it alone and I must admit, I don’t listen to her as much as I should. I am so focused on caring for her, that I often ignore or overlook her suggestions and encouragements. So thankful we are partners in life first, our love and our friendship are the strength that help us in our daily walk through her Multiple Sclerosis and my caregiving.
My Daughters – Our daughters are a blessing. They had to mature quicker than many kids as they have been helping me with caregiving since they were young. I notice most how much they were assisting once they went off to college and I became the sole caregiver at home. Now that they are in college and looking to their future, they still take good care of their daddy. They stop by my office to check on me throughout the week (joy of them attending college where I work). They text me often to check on things and keep me up-to-date. And when then are home, they jump right back into assisting with things around the house, freeing me up to focus on other things.
Our Parents – I can’t come close to thanking our parents for how much they support my caregiving of Angie. Her parents come weekly to spend time with Angie, work on some projects around the house with her, and give me time to step away from my caregiving duties for part of a day. Being able to clear my head and focus my mind and emotions on other things for an extended period is wonderful and I notice most the weeks it doesn’t happen. They also spend time with our daughters and pray for us constantly. My parents come periodically to assist me with larger projects and repairs, spend time with our daughters, speak with me weekly giving me an outlet to talk (which I am so thankful for), and constantly uplift us in prayer.
My Gaming Groups – I have mentioned before how much I appreciate my gaming groups. They are patient and willing to work with my schedule. But another area that I am thankful for, especially from my primary weekly group, is they challenge me to keep getting together for game nights. There are weeks I just don’t feel up to the efforts involved in getting together. It would be so much easier just to cancel game night. But, I have asked them to keep me accountable and they take that seriously. If I do not send out a reminder about game night, one of them will reach out and ask what we are doing this week and if I seem hesitant, they will step up and help make plans and encourage me to host the event, even if we just hang out and talk. No expectations for a great night each week, but they do make sure I take time to spend with my friends and have an evening not focused only on caregiving.
Special Services at Gen Con – Gen Con has the Special Services desk has been such a blessing to my wife and me and many others we have spoken to. The staff at the Special Services desk are very patient and go out of their way to be of assistance at the convention. They assist us with access to events, help us through crowds, and encourage us as we enjoy the convention. Gen Con would not be as enjoyable for me as a caregiver without Special Services. Their assistance allows me to be more relaxed and confident while traversing the large convention halls.
Whether you are parent caring for a child with special needs, you are an adult taking care of aging parents, or you are a caregiver for a spouse with a chronic illness, I want you to encourage you to find those they can care for you as a caregiver. I empathize with you and want to be here for you as well. If you need to chat about your caregiving, life changes you have had to make, how gaming gives you respite, or just need a listening ear, please reach out. We can talk over email (tr “at” freelanceknight.com), we can set up a time to Skype, or perhaps meet face-to-face if you are nearby.
I also share this for those game groups out there with a caregiver among your members. Know that your patience and willingness to work around the caregiver’s schedule and flexibility to manage last-minute changes and cancellations is appreciated so much more than you realize. That you stick with us even though we require cancellations and frustrate your plans is a blessing and a gift. Thanks to all of you gamers out there who care for more than just the game, but care personally for the members of your gaming group and support those who are caregivers.