Caregiver Goals

Brain Injury Blog

Finding Hope Around the Corner: Caregiver Goals

by Ginger Bristow Gaitor

Something to look forward to: A gift for the Caregiver

It is summer and the heat wave that has covered the United States makes it harder for the elderly and people with chronic health and respiratory issues. I drove home from an appointment today in 102 degree heat. The car always registers a bit hotter, but my neighbor said her car read the same. The humidity sucks the breathe right out of you.

I am working on a new goal: Hope, day by day. What is it that I will look forward to tomorrow? My goal is to decide tonight, take the risk that it was be dashed by someone else’s crisis, health or problem. But at my age I guess I have already learned that risk taking is mandatory in life. I want tomorrow’s “thing” to be something healthy. A soft ice cream at McDonald’s is something I just have to learn to live without.

On my drive back from the Redbox tonight, I was thinking of this new goal. I decided that in this heat, it would be a perfect time for me to venture to the larger pool. We have 4 here, and one is very close but in the shade. I want the water to be as warm as I can get it to exercise and stretch. Bill’s aide for tomorrow has canceled due to a sick child, so I will go when his physical therapist comes.

This is a two sided coin. If I stay home with them I will get pulled into answering all the current health questions for Bill, helping him exercise, and losing any time I will have for myself. Bill’s health has changed in the past 9 months. He is more frail, and last week he was declared legally blind due to oxygen deprivation during the latest bought with respiratory failure. He is walking into the right side of walls, since his limitation is on the right side of both eyes. Glasses are not helpful because the optic nerve is damaged and the cognitive processing is also part of his visual limitations. We are working on it, but this is one example of part of one day. We work on something old, something new, all day long. And the load has multiplied this past year.

The complication of my fragile health since February has required us to have aides part of the day and over night. We are keeping the weekends to ourselves, but my ability to get out and experience the fun and joy of life is hampered additionally by my own weaknesses.

If you care for anyone at all, you know the feelings that are connected with this deprivation. I have a friend who has a very ill cat. The cat has been with her for almost 20 years. The prospect of making any decision on his health is very upsetting to her. We all love someone or something, and the human condition of loving and losing is so evident to pet owners, children, parents, caregivers. We are not in this alone. We are one.

So my goal for tomorrow: Look forward to one “thing.” Warm water, body floating, and becoming stronger and healthier as I move. Knowing that Bill will be in good hands will free me to think about my own health and make positive use of that time.

My goal for this caregiving skill is to manage to take time out from my caregiving role to get reconnected with life as I use to know it. I love the water, and relaxing in the pool again will be a great gift to myself. Something to look forward to: A gift for the Caregiver.

August 26, 2011

3 responses to “Caregiver Goals”

  1. Ginger says:

    Sounds good to me. Now that Irene has passed, I have another 5 days before they close the pool. Thinking of trying the Y for two weeks on a pass.

  2. Marilyn Lash says:

    It’s so easy to forget about taking care of ourselves – thank you for the reminder. It’s not about being selfish – it’s about giving a gift to yourself and valuing yourself. Caregiving is harder than anyone imagines until they have done it.

  3. Janet Cromer says:

    Hi Ginger,
    I’m so glad you have the energy to share your wonderful writing again. Every caregiver recognizes that two sided coin! Hurray for you for honoring your goal for yourself. I will visualize you stretching out in the pool with a big smile on your face!

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