“Caring for the ones we love, Caring for ourselves”
Excerpts from Keynote Address, Federal Retirees Association
© Dr. Katherine Arnup
Myth Number ONE: Caregiving is “natural.”
You don’t have to learn to be a caregiver – especially if you’re a woman – it more or less comes with the territory. Just like we automatically know how to care for our babies because of our maternal instinct – we know how to care for our loved ones.
Myth Number Two: Caregiving is easy. There’s really nothing to it!
Shorter hospital stays and cutbacks to home care have resulted in family caregivers providing increasingly complex medical tasks at home with little or no help.
Myth Number Three: Caregiving isn’t really work – it’s a “labour of love.”
While love might be one of the reasons we provide care, it doesn’t remove the sheer amount of physical, emotional, and psychic work involved in it.
Myth Number Four: Caregiving should be performed for free.
Like caring for children, caring for the sick and elderly and disabled in our society is barely if ever remunerated adequately.
These myths serve to undervalue caregiving. Small wonder caregivers often report feeling exhausted, unappreciated, even INVISIBLE, and suffer from isolation from one another and the wider world.
Strategies for Caregivers: Caring for ourselves
False assumptions about self care:
- Self care is too expensive.
- Self care is self-indulgent. I don’t DESERVE care.
- How could I possibly think about myself when Mom is sick/aging/dying?
- I don’t need self care. I just have a drink (or two or three or four) when I’m feeling stressed. (Feel free to substitute bingeing on Netflix, eating cupcakes. . .)
- I’ll take care of myself when I’ve finished caregiving.
- I don’t have time for self care! I’m way too busy!
Strategies for caring for yourself:
- Put the oxygen mask on yourself first
- Set healthy boundaries
- Don’t take over! It’s still their life!
- Reach out and ask for help
- Slow down, focus on being rather than doing
- Find the Joy
- Take time for yourself – be compassionate to yourself!
- There is NO ONE right way to be a caregiver
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