Written by Patsy Telpner, Meghan’s mom. Post a question below in the comments sections and Patsy will choose one to answer in her next post.
Many of Meghan's readers are familiar with our family and our journey through prostate cancer.
I have been the caregiver.
It is a tough thing to be as many who have experienced illness close to them know all too well.
What I learned is that yes, it is important for the person suffering to be cared for, but that person isn't the only one having a tough time. Being a full time caregiver has its own incredibly challenges. To help the person who is sick get well, the caregiver has to ensure they don't forget themselves or sacrifice their own well being. That won't serve anyone or help with the greater good of the process.
What I have discovered over the last two months, and even over the last two years is that caring for the caregiver is equally important. So many people get sick from the stress of caring for others and I didn't want that to happen to me.
Tips For Caring For The Caregiver
- Make sure you are nourished with good food. Since we were going to be recovering away from home I arranged for Sondi Bruner who interned for Meghan last year, and who lives in Vancouver, where Meghan's dad was having her surgery, to prepare food for us. It included four different soups, roasted red pepper humus, lemon basil pesto, muffins and cookies. All frozen and ready to have when needed. I lived off that soup for two weeks. It was my source of strength and comfort. The pestos with crackers were great to serve to visitors as well as the cookies with tea. Preparing food is the last thing you feel like doing for yourself.
- Take Care Of Your Mind + Body: The stress can get to you and tension builds up. Taking care of someone else can lead you to feel guilty for wanting to escape but being anxious or stressed isn't going to help the sick. I made it a point to go for massages a couple of times and this helped release a lot of tension and let me let go- even if just for an hour.
- Stay Fit: I am very active in my regular life at home so sitting around serving teas and soups all day would leave me feeling lethargic. I found some local hiking trails and made it a point to venture out once a day. When weather wasn't permitting or my husband was having a rough day, I was able to find a pilates teacher who came to the house.
All of these small things, little indulgences and touches of normalcy, made me feel like I was still living my life too and so I could be caring and helpful without feeling drained and exhausted.
So whenever you see someone being the caregiver, keep in mind that they need your support. Bring them nourishing food, books, and magazines. Of course the one who is unwell needs your support but they are being cared for by the caregiver. Usually what you bring they cannot or should not eat and having company can get exhausting.
Helping the caregiver stay healthy and strong allows the one who is sick to get the best care possible.
Question of the Day: Have you ever been the care giver? How did you make sure you gave back to yourself?