Caregiver Wisdom: Emotional Care + Physical Care
The first Year after I started caring for my wife (two strokes at age 39 and 43 yrs) at home I thought that she was the same person I knew before the issues occurred. I would become angry with her for “doing this to me”, when, in fact, she wasn’t doing anything consciously.
I have since apologized many times to her. She’s still not recovered by a long shot. In point of fact, I will most likely have a 12 year old wife for the remainder of my, or her, life. Still, I have not prepared as many meals, though I do it 3 times a day, as she prepared for me prior to the Issues that occurred. I have not cleaned the house as many times, washed dishes as many times, so we are not close to even yet. She did this all for me without being asked. It is the least I can do to repay the favor. At some point, after that first year, I realized that “her” mental state parroted “my” mental state. So, if I chose to look at this as if she “did it to me”, she too would look at it that way. When I stopped having that frame of mind, she began to improve a great deal.
Now, I realize, she’s never going to recover, but it is so much easier to do this work with someone who is not afraid that anything they do and can’t control is going to create a loud and aggressive response from me! Knowing that the response will not be so “loud and aggressive” has effected her mood and her actions incredibly. It has all but cured her incontinence, it has reduced the number of seizures she has from the Seizure Condition I didn’t mention earlier. It has caused her to be much “happier” and less “fearful” of the consequences of what she cannot control. In short, I learned that a Caregiver has to give “Emotional Care” as well as “Physical Care”.
The result I have witnessed is as I mentioned is not for her, but, for me, I’m in a better state of mind, more relaxed, more in control. And, since her good mood helps make the Caregiving easier, I’m more rested. Amazing what not having to do two loads of laundry each day will do for YOUR mood.
The point is, much of the “stress of Caregiving” can be self-inflicted if one does not learn to maintain a positive attitude. (Don’t get me wrong, there are still times I’m frustrated and want to explode, but now, at those time I go outside for a few minutes and just calm down, and think that she didn’t do this to herself or me “intentionally”! No one would.
– Reid, family caregiver