On The Science and Art of Caregiving
For several years, in varying degrees, I have found myself becoming a caregiver to my heart’s love, and for expediency’s safe and our purposes today, I have decided to designate this love…and all our loves…as George, which will get away from the need for using mixed, p.c. pronouns so that no one feels left out. For now, the ubiquitous George will cover all the bases. I am calling care giving both a science and an art, a science because we are dealing with acquired wisdoms about what we can and cannot do, an art because of the love behind the willingness to give care, whether for a personal George or as a professional caregiver. Let me share some practical observations on when to give care and when not to. (Do we have choices here? We do, and it is important to know them.) We can give care when it is a gift of love we want to give another. We should not give care if we and the one who has needs despise each other. (Yes, it is not always love that binds people together. I once buried a congregant who was taking care of a dragon named mother and whose only way out…as she saw it…was to die, and she did. This is not as uncommon as one might think.) There are some considerations I have thought about in giving care, which I hope you will find valuable.
a) You can only do the best you can do, and you will not be perfect. You will fail according to your own measurements time and time again, even if George makes no complaints. You may even get frustrated enough to do a little yelling, so get over it quickly and get on with things. George won’t hold it against you. Neither should you.
b) Be very careful about doing physical things. Above all, do not hurt yourself or there will be two of you with problems. If you need helpers in lifting and moving, be sure to use them.
c) Absolutely take times out , every day if possible. Even a couple of hours in an unconstricted environment will keep your sights fresh and allow you to come back to George with more love and smiles. Trust me, if you do not do this, even your best efforts will eventually become a slog.
d) Get used to being a bad guy at times. Unless you really are a miserable sod, you definitely are doing good things for George. It’s just that he gets frustrated too and will push back at the one on the job, which is you. Don’t take it personally.
e) Learn as much as you can about doing more with less. If you can shorten up some tasks and learn from people who know, you will end the day with less weariness.
f) Let people love you. Whether you know it or not, in some ways your needs are as great as George’s.
g) Hardest of all perhaps…Recognize when you can no longer give care as you have done, and let that go to others. You will be much more available to love. Remember that this is where we are right now in life, and it can become a blessings or a curse.