Issues of Aging: Caregiving
No Spring, nor Summer beauty hath such grace, As I have seen in one Autumnal face.John Donne (1600)
As important as Family care support is to the Health Care system, we need to ask, who is taking care of the Caregivers?
Grief and CounselingCaregiving doesn't end with the death of those we love - the emotional care and connection is long lasting, and sometimes at first a heavier load to bear than the physical, practical supports given in frailty and illness. While there is no minimizing the loss felt, there are ways to have grief become a celebration of the life lived. Support from religious communities, hospice, and clinical counseling all can help. The AARP Caregiving Resource Center, the American Hospice Foundation, the Family Caregiver Alliance, and many other web sites offer general and practical suggestions for working through this difficult time.
Here are some basics to consider:
There are stages to grief. Not everyone goes through them all, nor in the same order, nor at the same pace, but people can heal. Knowing what these steps are can help to reassure you that you are making progress.
Dealing with a loss is not about “being strong”. Crying is natural. Letting others help helps them as well as you. It is ok to set limits and have privacy, but do not let yourself become isolated.
Grief is work. Make sure you take care of yourself while you do that work. Be sure to eat a good healthy diet. If full meals do not appeal to you, then have several smaller meals throughout the day.
Be sure to get enough sleep; this can include naps.
Stay in touch with your family doctor, and let them know if you are having problems sleeping or otherwise. Be careful not to abuse alcohol or medications to cover up emotions.
Take time to be active. Moderate exercises including walking, yoga, or other can be a meditation of sorts, and help the brain and body to reenergize.
AARP Caregiving Resource Center
American Hospice Foundation
Family Caregiver Alliance