As I come to an end of my second year of caregiving, I have come to realize that all along, I have moved through many different perspectives on my situation. Perspective is a medieval Latin term, defined as “a particular attitude, view, position, stance or approach.” It can also be defined as “the relative importance of things; sense of proportion.” Being a caregiver takes some perspective and there is no correct, exact way to “view” your situation. It takes experience, time to process and much reflection.
My journey with caregiving begun prior to picking my mom up at a homeless shelter in a traumatic state of dementia. It began as I was birthed into this world. My parents, over time, placed me in a caregiving role. I took care of my sister, looked after my mom and as soon as I could work, I used my money to buy the family Christmas presents every year
Growing up in a low-income family and with parents who lacked the skills needed to advance through life can narrow your world-view. When there are major deficits in a family, whether it be social, emotional, physical or financial, a response is generated in a child. That response is usually driven by survival needs. How the child chooses to survive will impact their future. Have you ever seen the family where one child is always the one to take care of the siblings or the parents? In all my caregiver groups, a common issue always emerges; one sibling is solely caring for the parent or relative. They are overwhelmed, angry and isolated because they have taken on the role that others refused, or because they are the only child. This experience in my childhood shaped my old perspective and is why I am fulfilling the role that was handed to me 44 years ago. I am continuing the road that was paved for me.
But, wait, wait, I found a way to jump onto the alternate highway. For the first time in my life, I have found value in myself, the meaning and purpose sitting in my soul. I have found me in a traumatic situation. I want to share ways in which I regained a piece of myself through the caregiving role, my new perspective. My first approach, visualize your life now and what you want from the future!
Write the Vision Down and Make it Plain: (Habakkuk 2:2) Whether you believe in God or not, you have a purpose for your life. Caregiving is not your only purpose. What? What did you say? Yes, caregiving can consume someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But it is not your only role and definitely not the only calling on your life. It is apart of who you are and can define your daily tasks. New Years 2017 included a vision for my life. I made a firm decision to develop a fresh new perspective. I refused to let the inadequate healthcare systems, the lack of treatment and support for Alzheimer’s and the apathy towards families caring for loved ones take me down. I was coming out swinging for my life. How did I swing? I developed an online vision board. Every area of my life that was suffering was now a target for me to improve upon. I wanted better health, an improved relationship with my husband, decreased debt and strengthen my spiritual walk. Write what you want. Take tiny realistic steps. By creating this vision board, I have outlined the desires for my life and its like I have a blueprint for me, not just for my mom. You can use any online vision board. I use this site: http://www.dreamitalive.com.
I will elaborate on each element of my vision board with steps I am taking to actualize it. I have already complete two of my visions for the year, (1) One vacation a year with my husband and (2) workouts at the gym at least 4 times a week. It feels amazing to just complete something for me. I encourage caregivers to take time and think about you. Take on a new perspective. Caregiving is brutal and one of the most challenging roles to take on, but don’t let the role take you down. You are valuable and you deserve to thrive in this life!