Hey there! Hope everyone is doing well. Grab a glass of something refreshing, or a cuppa something hot if that’s more to your liking. Find a comfy spot to sit and relax a minute. Yes, you. Sit. (I’m giggling.) We’ve talked recently about who takes care of those who take care of us. I want to turn the tables today and talk about who takes care of us? Me? Myself? We live in a society that seems to think that any of us can truly do it all, no matter what. Anything less is seen as laziness or weakness, or simple lack of concern. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
When my mom had Alzheimer’s, I was surrounded by a wonderful team of people to help me as a caregiver. Even though mom was in a residential facility, I was still there every day, checking up on the staff, taking stock of supplies, dealing with her two cats, checking on her meds, making sure she was actually eating and bathing, ad infinitum. It was exhausting. I can’t imagine what some of you are going through, caring for a seriously ill loved one at home!
I know we’ve discussed this before. But just in the past week, I’ve talked to two friends who are dealing with aging parents. It is NOT easy! One of them lives out of state, and has to depend on other family members to do what’s best for mom, trying to delicately balance dad’s feelings in the mix. The other one just moved back to his parents’ home state to care for them. One parent was in the hospital for several weeks, and the other parent is showing marked signs of dementia. He is trying to care for both of them at their home. He’s exhausted.
We have to take care of ourselves, when we’re taking care of others. From the mom of small children, to the adult child who is now acting as parent to their own aging parents, we have to do a few things. First, we have to admit that we need help. We talked about Jethro and how he counseled Moses to get help. We tend to isolate when things get rough, and that’s the last thing we should do! We need to let other people know we need help. That’s hard, especially when it seems like everyone around us has a plate just as full as our own. But you never know what sort of help is there, just for the asking. What is a huge chore and burden to you might be very simple and quick for someone else to handle. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
We need to take time for ourselves. This is not selfish. On the contrary, trying to do everything by ourselves is selfish and prideful. Take a night off and go to the theater or a concert. Go to a park and just sit and soak up the sun for an afternoon. Go to your favorite art gallery and drink it in. Have dinner or even just a cup of coffee with a friend. Do something to get out of your own head and your own thought processes for a bit. Trust me, being alone inside your own head is a very dangerous place to be!
It is imperative that we get enough rest. Imperative. As in, “Do not pass go, go to bed”, imperative! Studies have proven that sleep deprivation is just as detrimental as substance abuse. A little web searching will bring you lots of data and symptoms. These include a myriad of physical ailments, as well as slowness in the mental arena and even simple reflexes. Driving while sleep deprived is just as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Finally, we tend to let our own Spiritual life go when we’re caring for someone else. We ‘don’t have time to pray or read!’. We skip church, and deprive ourselves of the love and strength we could find there.
If you see yourself in here someplace, by all means, find some help. Find a way to get the rest you need. Find a way to connect with God and His strength on a daily basis. Don’t wait until you ‘can’t do this anymore’. Begin now, before there’s a problem, so you can head problems off at the pass. Find a doctor. Find a local organization such as the Alzheimer’s Association or a similar program to get you the help you need. Find a pastor or priest, they can find resources for all the parts of you – mental, physical, spiritual. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s more than okay! Take care of yourself so you CAN take care of someone else!