When I think about the lessons that I have learned after 25 years of care giving for our son who has multiple and severe disabilities and now for my mother who is 92 and has care needs,
I feel that the first lesson that I had to learn, to be a long-term caregiver, was humility.
I needed to learn that I could not look after the people I love all by myself. And that didn’t mean I did not love them. I needed people me to help me give care. That was a big lesson I had to learn in humility.
The other big lesson was just to accept human frailty. I needed to accept who the people are that I’m caring for and that I couldn’t fix them and that it was OK to be who they were. That is a big moment, I think, that all caregivers need to come to—that you accept the person you love, for who they are, with all of their abilities and disabilities—particularly if a situation or condition continues to get worse every day.
Those are the two big lessons in care giving that I’ve learned. And the icing on the cake is to be grateful for every moment that you have and to make a decision not to see your life as tragic. There has to be something to be grateful for every day. That’s not a Pollyanna idea, that's a real idea to survive a
long-term care giving situation.
It’s possible to have a good life AND be a long-term caregiver.
Those are the lessons I’ve learned.
Donna is a disability activist and author and consultant. For more information:
Donna's Blog - THE CAREGIVERS LIVING ROOM or
Donna's Book - THE FOUR WALLS OF MY FREEDOM
Yvonne Heath is a Canadian leader, Inspirational Speaker, Blogger, Television Host, Author and Creator of the #IJustShowedUp campaign.