February 10th, 2011 at 4:33 pm
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“Acting to the finish?” A new caregiver term of endearment, or is it something else?

by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

Misery and company

It’s been said that misery enjoys company. Regardless, I never would have imagined that any sane individual might project erroneous and/or biased perceptions onto any caregiver. A caregiver? Would that be caregivers to chronically ill elderly individuals? Would that also be frail elderly individuals who have multiple, long-standing medical chronic disease diagnoses?

Could such bias include frail elders like my mother whom I needed to physically lift regularly, up to and including out of her lift chair in my home, her too-low for elder comfort doctors’ office seating, her pillow-padded seat at my dining table, and out of her bed each morning?

I don’t quite get this one yet, perhaps? Some caregivers like me buy and just as quickly toss soft pillows by the second to avoid needless urine-soaked odors in our homes. Does that mean some caregivers like me don’t enjoy recycling? Does that mean that some caregivers would rather toss and keep pace with what all matters in care than keeping financial receipts and mounting laundry? If I did, surely I’d need a psychiatrist, instead of just respite?

Caregivers and our elders report and contribute to social discussions if not too exhausted. You decide who’s on first.

Apparently the chronic and progressively debilitating diseases generally associated with old age and unpaid family caregiving occasionally become lightning rods for those who are perceived to be caregivers living our lives on Easy Street, USA? Financially, housing, unemployment, independence of living and more are all on Easy Street, USA? Who knew?

There’s something that makes me laugh – out loud!

LOL means laughing out loud, if only in cyberspace.

For those familiar with eldercare, unconditional love within families and human dignity or respect in healthcare, surely we have a common understanding of the words: “Laugh to keep from crying?” If there is no laughter [or lol] in your life, or mine, I’d say you and/or I are either taking ourselves way too seriously, or simply do not have a sense of humor. Either extreme in living begs counseling and introspection. Matter of fact, all living invites introspection, respite and laughter, as well as healing tears, and so much more. That’s the short list!

I can’t begin to think of any other unpaid family caregiver’s days of care with an elder as a leisurely stroll in the park. While there are rogues in every walk of life and society, in every race, color and creed, my guess is that the vast majority of caregivers in eldercare need more, rather than less sleep, up to and including occasional all-day rest and respite. Every human being needs rest, renewal and recharge.

If you know a caregiver who sleeps the day away, starves his or her elder to death, takes the elder’s money and runs, you’re onto criminal activity. Get thee to the police, please! Thankfully, such eldercare situations are few and far between, or not as prolific as some may choose to believe and/or project unto others, perhaps.

Perspective is everything

Then again, that’s just my lens. I choose to not super-impose my caregiving worldview and/or culture on my fellow caregivers. I’m no expert. I am blessed to be allowed to contribute to the social discussion on eldercare, healthcare and patient advocacy issues without having to stick to a professional line of work that only rarely reflects the values I have always cherished.

For someone like me, life doesn’t get much better than eldercare, healthcare, caregiving and social advocacy issues. It’s called older, wiser, honoring one’s elders, and the eternal continuum that is life.

New to ElderCareLink.com?

If you are a new visitor to ElderCareLink.com’s Blogs and Other Resources for caregivers, below you’ll find a few of my older blogs and articles. The featured blogs may shed light on my undying outlook that caregiving to my beloved octogenarian mother is and will remain a blessing in my life.

Within my cyber social caregiving support group management and unrelated social networking online, and over the years, I have been nothing short of consistent in boldly proclaiming that “were it not for my mother and father….” – as in the only parents I ever have known since I was an infant – “…I would not be who I am or where I am today.” That still holds true today.

In Spanish, there is a popular saying, “*Padre es el que cría.”

Among my online and offline circle of acquaintances and social networks, I always proclaimed that as a child, I “…wanted to be like my mother, the domestic goddess.” Nothing has changed in that regard in my heart, spirit, or life. A non-literal *translation of the “padre….” Spanish saying is that biological parenting does not a true parent make. I’ve always said I would have done the same for my Dad “had he outlived my mother.” That still holds true – for me.

“Domestic goddess” will always be in the eyes of the beholder.

At 85 years of age, my mother remains the “domestic goddess,” who taught me how to love God, family, choose my friends carefully, test every spirit to determine the source of the person’s influence, learn how to cook, enjoy home and garden, live confidently, and so much more, including don’t look to human beings whom you do not know for money when you have a Mom and Dad who don’t want you to [fall] for financial lures used by devious types in this world. Uh, that is my definition of a domestic goddess and Dad whom I will always adore based on how much they both paid forward.

Your family’s past only matters as much as you and I allow it to become front and center of our daily living. For many caregivers, though, we have too much to do in our lives than to waste time looking back. Each day, each moment is precious. We may never walk this way again.

“Live Strong” is a corporate brand.

As the Lance Armstrong Foundation has long affirmed publicly, “Live Strong.” Whether living strong, and/or being a domestic goddess and mentor to a child and/or advocate for elders of your tribe depends exclusively on the lens in which you (and I) choose -this day, and every single day for the rest of our lives.

Life’s good, blessed, still good, but that depends on whether you’re looking back – or doing the emotional and psychological work that life calls each of us to do. It’s all good!

What say you?

I’m blessed, though perhaps not for reasons someone else may think.

Older ElderCareLink.com blogs and/or articles by Isabel Fawcett, SPHR

There are hundreds of articles and/or blogs I have been allowed to contribute right here at ElderCareLink.com. I have chosen but a few of my older writings to illustrate that in eldercare, [keeping it real] is a time-saver – not “acting to the finish line” for a caregiver like me. Below is a long-ago written tribute to someone I deeply admire based on the individual’s non-pretentious view of what being “at home” and/or staying “at home” means to her now that she is a retired nursing administrator. Her credentials don’t matter. Her service does!

Call to volunteer ignores largely invisible corps of volunteers” is not just 1 former nursing administrator’s worldview. It happens to be a worldview to which I have long since ascribed. As my Daddy always said, “No man on his deathbed ever said he wished he had spent more time at work.” I know I won’t either. Life’s work is like life 101. Roads go ever, ever on.

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