But caregiving is no holiday, and you, dear caregiver, may find yourself in the odd position of finding your job as a vacation from caregiving, and something to which you look forward.
Additionally, when offered vacation time, you may cringe...because you know that it will likely just mean more time spent at home with your husband or wife, the patient.
This can be a source of guilt, but it shouldn't be. There can be an isolation and sameness in caregiving that's almost soul-destroying. You're locked into a routine that's constrained and constricted by another's infirmity, to begin with.
It's like going for a walk with a toddler. It may be fun for awhile, but at length, having to walk bent over, and having your normal stride limited to baby steps, it becomes a trial.
You don't love the toddler any less for that, but it's a relief when the walk's done.
There's also the limited round of shared activities. About the best barbara and I can do is watch DVDs together, and we've seen everything in our collection, several times.
I don't mind. These are the boundaries of my life, and I've leaned to appreciate the nuances of film-making and storytelling because, well, I have had to.
But she belongs to a wider world, and I imagine it can be excruciating for her. I think she knows the Lord Of The Rings trilogy by heart.
So it is likely something of a relief for her when Monday morning comes. It would be for me.
And I hope it's not a source of guilt, if she feels this way. I'd hate that.
If you're a caregiver and you look forward to your job with a joy that feels almost unseemly, what can you do to assuage any feelings of guilt?
- Accept the feeling as normal - you'e not the one who's sick, and feeling forced into the lifestyle of illness is unfair and frustrating. While your marriage vows (or loyalty, if you're caring for a parent or sibling) put you here, you didn't ask for this. Be gentle with your own heart. You're human.
- Don't overcompensate - don't try to make your home, caregiving life something that it's not. If you hit the ground running and bursting with energy to try to rev up the life you're in, you stand a good chance of wearing your patient out, and creating frustration all around.
- Encourage diversity - if you're stuck with watching movies, subscribe to Netflix or a similar service if finances permit. Or try board games, if you both find some enjoyment there. If you can go out together,plan trips to museums or cultural activities that will not be over-tiring for the patient, and that you can still enjoy even if the activity's limited in time and scope.
- Above all, don't share the feeling of 'work as vacation' at home! - you patient likely knows that caring for him or her is a trial, and limits your life. Emphasizing it can be a body-blow to a person whose self-eteem is already shaky.
What do you think? Are there other ways you can add to deal with this issue?
I have another blog, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Mick Jagger) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.
Marley update... been moved to a sanctuary, and Bay County will revise their 'dangerous dog' codes.
WE MADE A DIFFERENCE!
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Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.