In the October of 2009, my father’s dear mother suddenly experienced dizziness owing to extremely low Blood Pressure. She was rushed to the hospital, following which, her health improved. Little did we know that it was just a lull before the storm. The next 5 days saw her taking to bed full time, slowly revealing paralysis on her left side. Soon she lost the ability to speak and my Mother took it upon herself to care for Granny.
Mother became many things to Granny during the six months of her paralysis – an aide, a nurse, a mother, a jester. She did all she could. Consequently, if Granny did respond (the smallest of movements), it was to Mumma.
Those six months, Mother’s life was absolutely difficult, characterized by frequent emotional breakdowns and exhaustion.
I witnessed the turbulence my mother faced firsthand. And this blog is, therefore, dedicated to those of you who are taking care of your loved one as well as those who are caring for a patient as a professional. This is a sincere appeal to you caretakers- take a breather, read this up and if possible, heed it. For you are important too!
- Counseling and Therapies: No, it is not weird to take therapy. In fact, Counseling helps a caretaker understand herself/himself better and inspires her/him to do the job well. It helps direct your energies in the direction you want.You could also join a Support group to share in the joys and challenges of being a caretaker. This acts as a constant reminder that you are doing right and that there are others out there who are living lives as taxing as yours.
- De-stress: It is important to engage in some form of recreation such as yoga, a hobby, playing with kids or pets, or very simply taking a walk at the park. This relieves the mind of worries and helps renew your perspective to life. Music helps keep calm and foster mental well-being. When you’ve had a long day, give it a shot and see the results for yourself.
- Spas and Massages: A couple of hours at the wellness clinic helps rejuvenate you and your soul. It allows for spiritual cleansing and helps you get back to being a caretaker with new vigor.
- Nutrition: Healthy, timely food is as important as emotional well-being. Good food nourishes your body and mind, thereby, keeping you from feeling fatigued.
- Disinfect: Often, it can be detrimental being around a patient. It is imperative to take care of your health as well as the health of other family members. Disinfect your hands, any shared items, the patient’s living area and any instruments.
- Spend time with your loved ones: Sit with your family, laugh with them, celebrate little joys. Talk to them- this is therapy in itself. And remember to take adequate breaks. Don’t hesitate to ask for someone else’s help, for ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get’. And more often than not, you will find that people are happy to help.
- Positive energies: Optimism is food for the soul. Surround yourself with people who make you stronger. Bask in the glory that comes your way. Be hopeful. Let your loved ones know how much you love them. Be positive and at the same time, expect everything- good and bad.
- Maintain a journal: Document your journey of being a caretaker. It will keep you motivated and will turn out to be a great source of strength in the future.
- ‘Me’ time: Find time for ‘you’. Spend a few minutes alone every day. Reflect on your decisions and choices. Read a book. Admire the beauties of nature. Or do nothing. Just be.