• By: Kimberly Hartmann

It’s Never About Me

When a loved one is ill, the focus is on them. Whether it be an acute illness or chronic we focus the attention on their needs. Everyone can try to imagine what it’s like to be in those shoes, but that isn’t something that can be done.

At the same time, consider the caregivers; the parents, siblings, spouses and other relatives whose lives are impacted. Nursing is a profession of caregiving, but it isn’t the same as being the one on the front lines. There are emotions, fears, hopes, dreams and so many other thought processes that are occurring.

A brief illness is one thing but a chronic illness is another. The hopes and dreams for an entire lifetime can be slashed in the blink of an eye. How often do caregivers say “it’s never about me?” How often do we assume that they are fine and don’t need support? We can’t walk in the shoes of a husband who has a sick wife. We can’t walk in the shoes of a parent who has a child that has cancer or is paralyzed. While we can imagine what it’s like, until we’ve been there, we can never assume or judge.

Maybe it’s time that there was a #NeverAboutMe movement that started for caregivers. I would think it would catch on quickly. How many of you are in similar situations? This isn’t something negative, it is giving recognition to the ones that are forgotten sometimes.

The most common tasks for a caregiver are:

  • Home Management and Care Planning

  • You are helping contribute to a plan for how to keep your loved on safe and healthy.

  • Medical Advocacy

  • Patients often times don’t have the energy to call and make appointments or follow-up about procedures. This is something delegated to the caregiver.

  • Prescription Medication Management

  • Making sure medications are filled on time and taken appropriately.

  • Assistance with Personal Hygiene and Care

  • This can range from giving a complete bath to just needing to be in the bathroom to make sure that there aren’t any falls.

  • Assisting with Meals and Nutrition

  • The patient often doesn’t have the energy to cook or eat, so it is up to you to take on more responsibilities.

  • Helping with Mobility

  • Making sure there are the proper mobility aides in the home.

  • Home maintenance and housekeeping

  • Sometimes the smallest tasks take energy…energy that your loved one doesn’t have. Once again this is another area that you end up taking on.

  • Transportation

  • Many times you will be driving your loved one to doctor appointments, but also just getting them out of the house for a break.

  • Keeping them company

  • Loneliness is very common for someone with an illness. It is also common for the caregiver. Suddenly you are having to learn to live life without someone by your side at events.

  • Financial accountability

  • Making sure the bills are paid and often becoming the entire source of household income if disability isn’t an option or hasn’t been approved.

These are just a few of the things that you, as a caregiver are taking on. Many times you do it and don’t even realize it. Sometimes it is second nature. You always put your loved one first, hence “it’s never about me.”

“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.” –Tia Walker, The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love

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