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Caregiving For Aging Parents

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Caregiving For Aging Parents

How To Feel Good About The Good You’re Doing
Yosaif  August
Yosaif August More by this author
Feb 23, 2014 at 09:00 AM

After my dad died, it was up to me to ensure my mother’s well-being. She lived in an assisted living facility in Florida; my wife and I were living an enchanted life atop a mountainside in Woodstock, NY.

 I called my mom every evening and made monthly trips to see how things were going. I hired an aide to assist my mother with her medications and personal care. I hired a bookkeeper to pay her bills and another service to file health insurance claims. Ultimately, I hired a care manager, too. And while she was in a post-stroke rehab facility, because she loved music and loved to sing, I hired a music therapist to visit her a few times a week. (The facility actually hired a music therapist later after they saw how good it was for my mother.)

 Believe it or not, with all I was doing, I never felt like I was doing enough.  “Enough” would have meant moving my family and business to Florida. For a number of reasons, that was not going to happen. 

 Caregiving from afar may be the best you can do right now; however without unlimited time, money and other resources, and with other demands on your time and attention, you may feel understandably frustrated. How can you move past the negative feelings that any form of caregiving can bring—guilt, resentment, even caregiver burnout? Let’s focus on what is truly important to you – your deep values – rather than on what limitations there may be in your present life circumstances.

 This ten-minute exercise will help you appreciate yourself for the caregiving you’ve been doing – whether it’s from afar as I was mostly doing, or close by. 

1) Take a few moments to relax and center your attention on your breathing. Simply watch your breathing; don’t try to control it.

2) Think of a time in the future, maybe a year or two from now. Put yourself in a place you’d like to be. From that place, look back to the present time and to the caregiving you are providing right now. Make a list of these caregiving actions. Do this with an appreciative eye. Be careful not to discount things that seem obvious, expected or no big deal. Include things that you may actually resent doing or may be doing out of a sense of guilt or obligation. 

3) Look at each item on your list and reflect on what about doing that task is important to you, or what value of yours you honor by doing it. Write these down next to each action. Again, with an appreciative eye, see what these tell you about the importance and worthiness of what you’re doing right now. 

4) With that in mind, write an email to yourself from your future self that you visualized before, thanking yourself for honoring those values. Send it. Receive it. Believe it. Read it again whenever you need an uplifting reminder of why you do what you do.

 You can also view my discussion of this topic and a guided experience of the exercise here.  Please share your experiences of this exercise and your own reflections on my Facebook page


About Author
Yosaif  August
Yosaif August is the President and CEO, Bedscapes/Healing Environments International, Inc. My own vision is to create a healing cocoon or comfort zone around every patient in every bed in every healthcare setting in the world. -Yosaif August Continue reading