Caring or Caregiving?
There have been many articles written about caregivers. In recent weeks there have been conversations I’ve been a part of where the question was asked, do all caregivers identify themselves in that role?
While speaking with a group of pastors, someone asked me how they could reach out to caregivers in their congregation when a lot of them didn’t really believe they were caregivers. He explained that there was a daughter who was taking care of her parent, and when he approached her about her caregiver role she was surprised. She wasn’t a caregiver, she was just doing what she should do, what she personally needed to do to help her parent. That’s just being a daughter, not a caregiver.
Many spouses are taking care of their partner, yet all too often they too would not recognize themselves as a caregiver, they’re simply following through on their marriage vows…in sickness and in health.
No matter who you’re supporting, the act of committing yourself to someone you care about who can no longer care for themselves is a caregiver.
I once read that caregiving often creeps up on you. It may start when you offer to take your parent to a doctor appointment. Maybe you see that they’re having a rough week so you take a couple homemade meals for them to microwave. Time passes, there’s a health setback and now you’re stopping by the house a little more often to lend a hand. You are a caregiver.
So does it really matter if you identify as a caregiver? I believe it does. I understand the passion of caregivers, the joy of giving and the act of selflessness. I’m in awe of the many caregivers I’ve come to know. They are truly special people.
But I’m hopeful that when you accept that you are a caregiver, you also understand that part of that role is the need to take care of yourself. You realize taking respite from supporting your loved one is not an act of selfishness but rather necessary so you remain able to give support. As a part of the care plan for your loved one, include a little self-care as well.