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Caregiver Wisdom

Tuesday June 28, 2022

“If I had known then what I know now…” Do you ever wish you could go back and give yourself some advice?

Recently during a caregiver support group, I posed the question: “If you could go back and give yourself some caregiving advice at the beginning of your caregiving journey, what would that be?” Here are some of the answers that were given along with the discussion:

Do the best we can in the moment.

You are learning as you go. Do your best. Let the rest go.

Forgive yourself. You will handle things wrong. Learn to forgive yourself and move on.

In caregiving, you will most certainly handle things wrong at times. It is a guarantee. You will say the wrong thing, react the wrong way, or do the wrong thing. Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes and then do better. Do it differently next time but go easy on yourself. Try not to burden yourself with all the guilt.

Ride the tide. Go with the flow.

Try to let go of your expectations. Forget how things are “supposed to be” and just go with it. Go with whatever is happening. Live in the moment with your loved one.

Learn to redirect.

Your loved one will get upset. Your loved one will seem to pick a fight with you. You will get frustrated. One of the best things you can do is learn to redirect your loved one. Change the subject. Give something as a distraction. Changing the direction of your loved one’s thoughts can save you from some disagreements and hard moments.

Embrace the moments of clarity.

Embrace the moments when your loved one recalls your name and your relationship. The times when you can reminisce with your loved one. The conversations that make sense. The joyful times of happiness and love. Cling to these. Take time to fully enjoy these moments and hang on to them.

Embrace it – even the infuriating parts…one day you may look back and miss it.

Those annoying habits that your loved one has developed – non-stop drumming on the table, whistling, constant chatter, following you around. One day when your loved one has moved into residential care or has passed, you may find yourself wishing that you could just hear him whistle again. Or you may smile when you think about how your husband used to follow you around the house non-stop, even to the bathroom, and now you are in the bathroom alone because your loved one is no longer there. Try to enjoy. Try to embrace the change. Look for the humor. Try to smile.

Maybe you are at the beginning of your caregiver journey. We hope that these thoughts from experienced caregivers can help give some perspective and hope. Maybe you are in the throes of caregiving now – we hope that these words of wisdom remind you to forgive yourself and live in the moment.

Written by Sheri Wammack, LBSW