Caregiver Duties – An Obligation or an Opportunity?

caregiver-duties.jpgHow do you view your caregiver responsibilities?  Do you see your role as a caregiver as an obligation or do you see it as an opportunity?

I work with a young man who is the primary caregiver for his grandmother. They went through a stretch recently where she needed a lot of help. She had a series of health issues that resulted in three different hospital stays followed by numerous trips to the doctor’s office.

In the middle of responding to one crisis after another, he also managed the sale of her home and her move into a retirement community. He was happy that he could help her, but he was also angry and resentful that the rest of the family didn’t step up. Between raising a family and running a business, my friend has a very busy life. Time is his most precious commodity.

One day, on his way to pick his grandmother for yet another appointment, he thought, “Why do I have to do all this? Why isn’t anyone else helping?” And then he thought about how much time, energy and love
she had given to him and his young family through the years.

He decided to change his his attitude from feeling like “I have to” to “I get to”. He decided his other family members were missing a great opportunity. He said, “I don’t  have to  be with my grandma, I get to be with her and help her do the things she can no longer do for herself. I get to pay her back for all the things she’s done for me, and that’s a gift to both of us.”

If you are caring for someone you love, you may find yourself carrying the bulk of the caregiver duties. When that happens, instead of feeling resentful toward family members who don’t show up to do their
share, perhaps like my friend,  you can see this as an opportunity to repay precious gifts of time, attention and comfort to someone who loved you when you needed it most.  When we get to do that, it truly is a gift we get to give to our care receiver as well as ourselves.