I have been reflecting on what it takes to care for someone who is completely dependent on you, for everything. My focus for this blog is for an elder who is near the end of his or her lifecycle, with very little hope that life will continue for very long.
When I look back over the last several years and think of all the medical personnel, medications, Caregivers, nurses and aides whom it took to sustain a life, it is quite an eye opener. It may take a village to care for one person, depending on the circumstances.
Our lives are prolonged as a result of modern medicine. Does that result in a good quality of life? Sometimes it does and sometimes not. No matter what, if you love someone you are caring for, you want to do everything you can to keep that person alive.
As a Caregiver, at times I carry around a notebook to track the list of things that have to be done. It reminds me of when my children were young, all under seven years old. At the end of some days I would write a list of everything I did for that day. I was doing many different things for each of my children, while maintaining my household. I wanted to remind myself that, though there were not necessarily physical signs of accomplishment in a day, I still organized and managed much. The same goes for Caregiving. You may not visibly see what you did by day's end, but you can be sure, you were not sitting around twiddling your thumbs. I encourage you to write down, at day's end, what you did that day in order to remind yourself all that you accomplished. You may be surprised to learn how much you juggle and manage.
Raising children and Caregiving have similarities in what the actual job requires. It is a labor of love. In my experience, the hired professional Caregivers that were a part of my experience were very connected to my family. They gave every ounce of themselves to the job, like a family member. We built strong relationships with them. They were highly valued and appreciated.
When you are hiring Caregivers, make sure you understand their background, experience, skill level, limitations and ability to do the job well. Do your research. The same would go for seeking out doctors, specialists, assisted living homes and anything that it takes to provide the best care for the one you're in charge of or caring for.
It may take a village to sustain someone's life. If it does, it's worth every moment spent seeking the best care possible: you are doing an excellent job, keep up the good work!
Jan Steinle, the artist, calls the above image "I See You." When I look at it, all the circular designs remind me of all the people and professionals it took to manage one person.