Caregivers need to talk to other caregivers because no one else can truly understand what they face day in and day out. I recently spoke to a group of caregivers at Christ Episcopal University and every one of them needed to be there–for different reasons. Some needed to vent. Others had questions about Alzheimer’s behavior, about forgiving the past, about grief. Some just needed to be in a safe place where they felt accepted, understood, and didn’t have to hide just had crazy/bad/bleak/or weird their lives had become. No one but another caregiver knows about caregiver stress and how it can build and build. Not their doctor, their less involved siblings, not even their pastor or their therapist–unless they happen to be caregiving, too.
Sadly, our friendships oftentimes suffer in our caregiving years. We’re not exactly great company–sleep deprived, fussy (I was, I can’t speak for you), and a little self-absorbed (in other words, we need to do a lot of venting). It’s important to preserve those long-term friendships and one of the best ways to do that is by not exploding/emoting all over non-caregivers–at least not at volcanic/molten lava proportions. Other caregivers will get when you’re having a “crap day,” I used to call them, and be more patient and relating to your tears, screams and whines.
It’s easier now than ever for caregivers to connect. In the past five years there’s been a boom of care related online forums. What’s great about these is that they’re 24/7. Caregivers need that. Not only are they up at the most ungodly of hours, that’s usually when they’re the most ticked off, stressed out, and pushed beyond all human endurance. That’s when they need the anonymity and immediacy a forum provides.
Today, I’ll be sharing with caregivers over at Caring.com. I’ve written their Family Advisor column for years and now I am a contributing editor to their home-care newsletters. We’ll be talking about caring for our parents, and since it’s close to Mother’s Day, I’m sure the conversations will gravitate toward our mothers, their care, and our complex and so important relationships with them.
Feel free to join us if you are happening to read this:
It runs May 11th, 2012 from 1-3 Pacific Time under the Caring for a Parent forum, and will also be on Facebook: