By Sherrie Bethea, MSSW
You know how to drive. You do it well; and you actually enjoy it. But when Mama has a doctor’s appointment – NO WAY! Your husband or adult child will have to take over! You need time to focus on the questions Mama always asks about the appointment; and for the argument you will have when she tells you that the appointment “wasn’t necessary in the first place!”
Auntie Jane has been in a nursing home for the past 4 years. She enjoys weekly visits from you and your prayer partner, who also visits when you need time for errands and appointments. Nursing staff believe that Auntie Jane is more pleasant, alert, and cooperative because of your support and regular visits.
Then, enter the pandemic! Life as we know it is no longer the same. The need to adjust, accept, and adhere to a new normal is just beginning!
Now you’re DRAGGING Mama to the doctor. She doesn’t like sitting in the waiting room without someone to talk to! - But the new rules say she must. Unless she needs assistance, you must wait in the car. The visits Auntie Jane looks forward to must now stop. Why? Because only essential visitors are permitted in the building; but to Auntie Jane, you are essential!
In the 2020 Caregiving in the US Research Report, AARP gives this definition of caregiver:
‘Adults over age 18 who provide unpaid care to a friend or relative, to help them take care of themselves. This may include help with household chores, finances, visits, health care, or other resources. The adult caregiver need not live with you.’
*For every 5 caregivers, 3 are women; 2 are men. Women comprise 61%; men make up 39%.
Four of every 10 caregivers, age 18-49, comprise 46% of the caregiving population. The remaining 54% are age 50 and over.
So just what does love have to do with caregiving and our ‘new normal’?
Being a loving caregiver requires us to wait, and be more patient with our loved ones. They are helpless; and they need us now more than ever! (I Corinthians 13:4).
You cannot take care of your loved one if you don’t take care of yourself. Get the rest you need. It will strengthen your mind and your body! (Matthew 11:28).
Husbands and wives, support your spouse; and allow your spouse to support you. It is very easy for the demands of caregiving to consume you! Let your loving relationship be a source of strength. (Ephesians 5:33).
Allow your friends to support you. Don’t shut them out when you really need them. Isolation leads the way to exhaustion and frustration. (Proverbs 18:24).
Most of all, remember, ‘And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’ (NKJV Phillipians 4:19).
Caregiving is a challenge. God is on your side. With Him, all things are possible!