Being a caregiver: Every journey is unique
Embarking on the caregiver’s journey is an experience that can come with unimaginable hardships. The caregiver undergoes many transitions, ranging from the onset of the loved one’s illness, the shock of the diagnosis, understanding the disease, and then taking the necessary steps to care for them. The role of the caregiver is one of exploration that is in constant evolution. Unique on to itself.
As the journey unfolds and responsibilities accumulate, the caregiver finds themselves unprepared for their role. The motivation to care for their loved ones challenges them to push their kindness, patience, and tolerance to the edge. The level of dedication displayed by the caregiver comes at the cost of their values, needs and limits. Faced with the obstacle of overcoming exhaustion, they begin to feel overwhelmed.
A caregiver supports their loved one to improve their quality of life. But who supports them? Reaching out for support requires a certain level of vulnerability and learning to recognize our limits and needs can be challenging. Reconnecting with oneself and mastering self-respect are critical components to accepting help. The illusion that we need to do everything ourselves is a myth created by our high expectations.
As the loved one’s disease progresses, we may be surprised to learn that we can no longer do everything on our own. Who will care for our loved ones if our physical, psychological, and emotional health no longer allows us to do so?
In cases where the caregiver is the sole carer of their loved one, they may refuse or hesitate to ask for help: perhaps their loved one is reluctant to accept another carer, or the caregiver fears disturbing others. A support network is necessary to help preserve the caregiver’s energy. Family members, friends, neighbors, community resources, and the health care system are all links in their support system that benefit the caregiver.
The caregiver may have questions or concerns about housing, resources, end-of-life support, etc. There are resources in the HSL like Les Aidants Naturels du Haut St-Laurent to guide and support you through these difficult moments. The sooner the caregiver can identify what they need, the sooner they will be able to find the resources and tools that will help in their daily life.
No matter where you are in your journey, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Written by: Lynn Levesque