How long will the caregiving process last? What’s the next caregiving situation that will arise? Those two questions–the Gordian Knots of caregiving–are at the heart of a radio discussion between New York Times writer Jane Gross and On Being’s host Krista Tippett.
Gross, who writes the New York Times’ New Old Age blog and recently published a book entitled A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents–and Ourselves, believes the ramifications from these two questions throw a monkey wrench into the lives of many new caregivers. That’s because caregiving often requires people to change long-held beliefs of how their lives operate.
How to be a successful caregiver
Multiple ideas on how to become a successful caregiver emerge from this interview, including:
- Slow down. Gross suggested that in today’s world, decisions are made at a rapid-fire pace. However, to do a better job of caregiving requires a paradigm shift in which the caregiver slows down, gets his bearings, and negotiates decisions with multiple people, including the elder.
- Learn to walk a fine line. Caregivers need to learn how to make decisions that allow the caregiver to take over enough of an elder’s care without humiliating the elder. Furthermore, caregivers also need to realize when making decisions that they can’t stop the clock on the elder’s aging process or turn the clock back to an earlier (and easier) time.
- Let go of the to-do list. Gross found that the more a person is a control freak about life, the more disoriented he or she will be by the ever-changing demands of caregiving.
- Be present. Learn how to be present in the relationship in a consoling way. “Annoyance softens into tenderness, if you let it,” Gross said, adding that many adult children are in denial about the elder’s situation. Thus, it’s important to be always open to conversations about the elder’s end-of-life philosophy.
- Expect changes in your own life as a result of caregiving. Being in a caregiving role can cause profound changes in the caregiver’s life. In her case, Gross did not go back to her previous way of life after her mother died. She also found that caregiving changed the relationships within her family and the nature of her memories of her mother.
Gross also admitted that she often wanted to run away from caregiving duties. However, by taking on the role, she said she learned what she was made of and, ultimately, became a better person because of being a caregiver.Posted in Caregiving | 2 Comments »