Know your “why”.
You hear this with a lot of things – business decisions, marriage, breakups, dieting, moving…anything that you might look back on and struggle with. It’s important to really know why you did this thing.
Personally, I think being a Family Caregiver requires a step beyond knowing your why. You need to be grounded in it.
There will be times when your Care Recipient makes you, well, pretty much every negative emotional adjective available: angry, frustrated, crazy, sad, resentful, heartbroken, pissed off, exhausted, lost, (feel free to drop your favorite one in here somewhere). Sometimes that means the original “why” might not be enough to keep you going.
Loving your Care Recipient is one of those double-edged swords: You love them and therefore you want to be their Caregiver. You love them and know you aren’t the best Caregiver for them. You love them and want to keep them near you. You love them and know they would be better off somewhere else.
Financial reasons work in the same way: I’m going to keep mom with me so we aren’t spending all that money on community-based care. I’m going to find a great place for mom to live because I’m missing too much time at work and can’t afford to keep this up.
My “why” is grounded in my faith – because I am grounded in my faith. I know I’m called to serve. I know that service is an act of thankfulness, not a means to an end. By serving others, I’m not racking up heavenly points somewhere, but expressing gratitude for a gift already given. I guess when it comes right down to it, being a Caregiver isn’t about me, my Care Recipient, love, finances, geographic factors, or any of those other typical reasons…it’s about glorifying God. It’s a physical, emotional, mental manifestation of spiritual gratitude.
Sounds all high & mighty, right? Well, I screw it up all the time. I feel resentful and all those other negative adjectives. I get impatient. I am no better than anyone else and their caregiving. What I know though is that there is a strength greater than mine and that if I am making caregiving decisions based on the best interest of everyone involved, then I’m doing the best I can.
CareTreks is grounded in that same idea. If you’ve seen my business card, the back has Philippians 2:3-4 written there: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” That doesn’t mean I’m no good or unworthy of consideration, but it does mean I should elevate others above myself. It doesn’t mean my interests aren’t important, but they should be considered in conjunction with the interests of others.
I think that regardless of a true Caregiver’s faith choices or lack thereof, they understand this concept and are living by it. I’m not going to get “preachy” to the families I work with or expect them to agree with what grounds me. I’m not going to project my beliefs on them anymore than I will accept their doing the same to me.
My calling is to help Caregivers be the best Caregivers they can be for their loved one. I strive to provide the skills, knowledge and resources they need to accomplish their goals. I just think it’s important to share my “why”, whether you agree with it or not. Regardless of your faith, the color of your skin, your gender, geography, employment, family structure or any other factors, the fact that you are a Caregiver means I want to help support you.
Sometimes that will mean giving you what you need to keep your Care Recipient in your home and sometimes that will mean giving you what you need to find a more suitable living arrangement for your Care Recipient.
How can I help you?