This November’s National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) is centered around connectedness. Our Careforth team is committed to connecting with you and surrounding you with the support you need to feel confident in your care. One way we support caregivers is through the lived experiences of our care managers and caregiver support team, as many on our team currently do or have previously been in the role of caregiver for someone important in their life.
Caregiving is not a role anyone is prepared for, but many will find themselves in this support role at some point in their life – and along with the gifts that caregiving brings, it often comes with many difficulties. Not uncommon are feelings of guilt, financial stress, and exhaustion from lost sleep or from balancing a full-time career with caregiving duties. Some caregivers cope with the many changes and demands of caregiving with relative ease, while others are at risk of developing depression and anxiety, as well as physical manifestations of chronic stress.
Despite these challenges, there are many silver linings to caregiving and techniques to take care of yourself along the way. In the spirit of connectedness, a few of our caregiver support associates wanted to share their caregiver experiences with you, the highs and lows of their journeys, and the takeaways from their role as caregivers.
The Caregiver Journey: Finding Balance Between Caregiver and Loved One
Bobbi Roy, RN Assessment Care Manager at Careforth, provides care for her husband who struggles with chronic and often debilitating headaches. Hear from her as she shares her experience navigating the balance between her role as a caregiver and as a wife:
“I’m the woman next to you at a red light. My husband is in the car with me – he’s had a hard time driving since the headaches started. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia and experiences headaches that cause his ears to ring, his speech to slur, his memory to fade, and sometimes he can’t walk at all. He had to stop working. We’ve been married for 10 years, and I’ve been his caregiver since these symptoms showed up five years ago.”
Despite these hardships, Bobbi and her husband have found ways to cope with his physical challenges and their relationship has adapted to the support role she now fulfills as caregiver.
“I have a hard time looking at him as a patient because he’s my husband, but it’s still hard for me to separate that sometimes. However, we’ve learned how to adapt and better support one another. When my husband starts feeling overstimulated, he likes to play guitar and sing. It helps calm his head and ease his stuttering. Being a caregiver takes sacrifice, patience, and understanding, as I’m the one my husband relies on, but despite the challenges we face, we’re taking things one day at a time.”
Advice from Bobbi: Rely on your care team, 24/7. They are there when you need them.
“I’m Bobbi and I’m a caregiver.”
The Caregiver Journey: Finding Moments for Self-Care, Even on the Hard Days
Carolyn Carlise, Case Manager at Careforth, took on the role of caregiver when her mother got sick. In her caregiving journey, Carolyn discovered that even in moments of difficulty, self-care and taking care ofafter her own well-being was one of the best ways to improve the care that she’s able to provide.
“I’m the woman you see jogging on the beach. This used to be my daily routine when I had time for a more active lifestyle. Now, I’m a full-time caregiver for my mother and these jogs have become a luxury. Even on the harder days, I try to take a moment to clear my head with the sounds of the waves, even if in the back of my mind I know that there’s dinner preparations waiting and cleaning to be done.
The journey of caregiving is not an easy one. It demands patience and compassion. The desire to always be the best version of yourself, to support the person you’re caring for and not showing that it’s also hard, can be incredibly difficult. This is why self-care is so important – whether it’s eating right, meditating, or even just taking a walk. It’s important to find what works for you and your loved one, and to take care of yourself in the process.”
Advice from Carolyn: Value self-care, look for enrichment activities, and create joy in your life.
“I’m Carolyn and I’m a caregiver.”
The Caregiver Journey: Navigating the Transition to Caregiver
Herlinda “Linda” Navarez, Community Liaison at Careforth, became a caregiver for her mother after her father passed. She shares her experience of having to quickly transition her life to fulfill this new support role.
“I buried my dad on a Friday and by Sunday, my mom moved in with my family. It hasn’t been easy; caregiving seldom is. I’m faced with the devastation of seeing my mother slip away while also juggling multiple roles – a student, an employee, a mother, and a wife. I never saw myself as a caregiver, but this is just what you do in my culture.”
Despite these challenges, Linda found the support she needed and adapted to her new role as caregiver, also being sure to take time for herself and create meaningful memories with her mom.
“It’s a lot at the beginning, but once you get a care team; the support that comes from them is amazing and it becomes much easier to navigate. Having their coaching, education, and support truly helped me not to panic as much and find a path forward. For me, chatting with my mom over coffee, going to church on Sundays and taking her to the cemetery to visit my dad were ways to connect with her and provide care for her in a way that was meaningful for the both of us.”
Advice from Linda: Take advantage of respite care and adult daycare services.
“I’m Linda and I’m a caregiver.”
Finding Your Caregiver Support and Connection
Our care managers and caregiver support team understand the importance of support and connectedness in the role of caregiving and are here to ensure that you feel supported at every turn. Whether it’s providing actionable advice, connecting you to available resources and communities, or creating your own caregiving support team – Careforth believes it is crucial that you have the necessary connections to support you through your caregiving journey.
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