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Welcome to the world of care taking! Most often, some event has turned your world upside-down. That’s why you are here. Maybe it was a hospitalization with a stroke like it was with us. You woke up in the middle of the night and your spouse was struggling in the bathroom because his hands weren’t working right and his speech was slurred. It was obvious he was having a stroke and you had to call an ambulance or jump in the car to get him to the ER fast. You knew time was of the essence as it is with strokes.Most often, some event has turned your world upside-down. That's why you are here. Click To Tweet
It may have been some other problem that is acute like a heart attack or brain bleed and you spent days in the hospital and/or rehab after waiting to see what the final outcome was going to be after his acute illness was dealt with. It may have started with a simple surgery that had unexpected complications. For many of you, there was an acute incident that started the ball rolling and you had a diagnosis that you knew would involve care taking in some form.
For others, a quiet discussion in the doctor’s office put words to your worst fears. Life would not be the same.
For others of you, it was a quiet discussion in the doctor’s office as you slowly watched your loved one fail. The tests were back and you were given a diagnosis you didn’t want to hear. But it confirmed your worst fears. You knew it meant the months and years ahead were going to involve more and more care taking.
For still others, the care taking may be more short-term, but intense. You are dealing with a cancer diagnosis. For now, you are struggling through chemo or radiation. You don’t know what will come after that. You don’t even want to think about the future. You just want to enjoy as much of the present as you can. Your loved one could respond to treatment…but might not. You are burdened by the stress of caring for her as well as the burden of wondering if you will lose her to an untimely death.
In all these scenarios, there is care taking involved. As someone who has been in the middle of this for a couple of years, I will share some things I have learned. Others of you have learned things that will be helpful as well. Feel free to share them in the comments. As appropriate, I’ll share resources I am aware of during this series.
The thing about care taking is that it isn’t always full-time
Of course, care taking is not always full-time. That doesn’t mean it isn’t tiring. It may come to that, or at points, it may include that, but it isn’t always part of the package. Think of the parent with the child who has ADHD. They go to school, but the parent has interruptions and many concerns for the child. Often they have extra appointments with a variety of specialists and therapists.. They are hoping that by the time their child is older, he may improve and be independent, unlike many of our other care taking situations.
But what about those on the periphery of care taking?
You (the friend or family member) need to be aware of the needs of care takers in order to offer the right kind of help. Often that requires asking the caretaker who is your friend or family member. Their needs vary from person to person based on a host of factors.
- How is their health?
- Are they knowledgeable medically?
- Are they able to speak up and ask questions or ask for help when they are starting to “drown?”
- Do they have a support system of friends and family to talk to, laugh with and pray with?
- These are just a few of the factors to think about.
They may need help in one of these areas just for doctor visits so the right questions will be asked or someone can advocate for them or their loved one. Often, it takes having someone who knows what to ask and not simply to sit in the office and say, “Yes, Doctor.” but to have a list of questions handy when lab results don’t come back as expected.
Meals are nice for help, but sometimes we need help in other areas. The help you as a friend or family member can offer may be more strategic than a meal. It may include a meal for sure, but it may include other things as well.
The care taking ride is often more like a roller coaster, not a train
The next 31 days we’ll be taking a ride together. It is much more like riding a roller coaster than riding a train. That I can tell you from experience. Some days are up and others are very down. There has to be a way to be anchored to something unrelated to what is happening to your loved one or we will have a hard time coping.
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.