The Discounted Burden
I find it funny actually. When I gave up my career in tech to become a full-time caregiver for my father. I was called “stupid”. When I kept him at home instead of putting him in a nursing home, I was called “crazy”, and when I left my career in acting to focus on doing it right, I was called “greedy” and “lazy” because I was just “waiting on him to die” so I could see what I could get. (People actually said this to both of us) But they don’t know how fathers and sons work, I’m guessing.
I did it because it seemed like the right thing to do. Just like him sending me to get educated seemed like the right thing to do. That’s how it works.
I was told to my face, by my dental hygeinest. “My brother can take care of our mother, what’s to it other than putting her in a corner and feeding her?” I wanted to cuss her out, but my mouth was full.
A relative came into town and said. You can do so-and-so, I hear you do “nothing all day” anyway.
Time Tells on Us All
But my, my, my how time tells on us all. I never had to move home for an inheritance and didn’t have to take care of him. “You still aren’t a successful actor? We watch that show religiously and we haven’t seen you,” and “I heard you gave up that good paying job” (dummy) and “You aren’t done remodeling that house yet?” Family…you gotta love ’em.
But now, the moral arc is near, and many of those same people are now having to decide to care for relatives (or not to) and suddenly everyone knows the exact costs of caregiving. Funny, just a few years it ago it was SO easy.
Eventually, Everyone’s Choice
People think this is a problem they’ll never have to encounter, but we are all one sneeze away from potentially needing care or having to give care to a loved one. Now everyone suddenly knows the work involved, the stress and the endless hours and worry. Funny how that is. There are many surprising things, especially when dealing with someone with memory loss, things you will not know unless you experience them. Hard to explain, but we really do assume that people remember things, especially if those things place them in harms way.
One shocking thing was when I discovered my father had amnesia about doing risky things that would hurt him. And what I was even shocked to learn is that medication side effects happen and are not rare, and that I found our later that it was the Venlafaxine causing the amnesia. A pill that was supposed to remove nightmares, made waking life a nightmare. So…my critics would never know that until they’ve had to deal with it.
Care for Yourself First, Then Your Loved One
My only advice, ignore people who project, and don’t make caregiving your whole identity. Caregiving is an incredibly demanding and challenging task. It requires tremendous commitment and sacrifice, and can take a toll on the physical and mental health of the caregiver. Just remember to take care of yourself too, because you can’t do it well if you do not prioritize your own health and well-being. I had to learn this the hard way. Ultimately, caregiving is a labor of love and should not be sullied by those who don’t have the stuff to do it themselves. It’s essential, all the sleep deficits, worry and dreams deferred will take their toll at some point and there will come a bill for it. Be willing to pay that bill, but realize you cannot care for another adequately if you neglect yourself. It is scientifically proven that being a caregiver ages you, shortening tolamares. But I’m hearing you can repair that damage.
I’m Writing a Book Called Noneagenerian, and this is part of my healing process.
Well…as I write my book, I found this pretty humorous. People will judge you for what they themselves are unwilling to do, and that was the most stressful part of it. Well, talk is cheap, the proof is in the doing. I don’t mean this article to shame those who genuinely cannot care for a loved one, I am writing this post to expose those who gladly make the burden of caregiving a living hell for caregivers and who fold their hands and turn their noses up and criticize them. When I was having to fulfill my obligation, I was not strong enough to take a firm and assertive stance against these people, but I’m getting stronger now, and I really do believe that my lessons can help others.
Taking care of a loved one is an incredibly demanding and challenging task that requires tremendous commitment and sacrifice. Despite the criticism I received from family members, I chose to take on the responsibility of caring for my father. It was the right thing to do and I was willing to make the necessary sacrifices, despite the toll it took on my mental and physical health.
The Unknown Unknowables
I’m sure many other caregivers can relate to the surprise of discovering that a loved one can have amnesia about doing risky things that would hurt them. It was even more shocking to learn that medication side effects can cause this, such as the Venlafaxine causing my father’s amnesia.
My advice to other caregivers is to prioritize your own health and well-being. It is scientifically proven that being a caregiver ages you, and you cannot care for another adequately if you neglect yourself. Make sure to set aside time to rest and relax, as it is essential to have a balance between caring for your loved one and taking care of yourself. Talk is cheap, the proof is in the doing.
Don’t Take Shit from Anybody, No Matter How Hard They Smile at You
Reminder DO NOT take criticism from people who don’t have the experience to understand what it takes to be a caregiver. And do not allow anyone to walk through your heart and mind with their dirty feet when you are in a weakened or vulnerable state. The damage will be lasting if you do.