TAKING ON THE ROLE OF CARETAKER
In these later years of our 30+ year marriage, I find myself in the role of caretaker to my spouse. It is a very challenging role, fraught with physical and emotional stressors, for which there seems to be no escape, but there is help available.
Basic Needs: Things like cooking, cleaning, washing are to be expected, especially if you live in the home. What is sometimes unexpected is having to do more in the way of cleaning up messes, spills, keeping things organized and put away, and the like, which the person is no longer able to do for him/herself. It’s like having a toddler in the house and going around cleaning up after them every moment.
Medical Needs: You may also have to make and arrange transportation to appointments and tests, keep track of (maybe even distribute) their medication. You are the person’s liaison, so you need to speak to care managers, social workers, insurance care managers, managers of services, ie, food service, home health aides, equipment services, etc.
Physical Needs: Helping with things like shaving, combing hair, bathing, toileting, nail care, choosing what they wear, and the like, may also be required. Assisting with their mobility is another thing.
Emotional/Social Needs: Being there for them emotionally is necessary. Many do not have or want outside social contacts, so you may be their only source of social support. If they are sad, mad, hurt, frightened, you need to be there to encourage, uplift, calm, and soothe them. To make them feel a part of the social structure of the home is important too! They should not be overlooked or ignored by the people visiting; giving them a sense of isolation is not acceptable. They should be engaged in conversation, discussion of appropriate current events should be promoted.
I’m sure I may be leaving something out, but the fact is that you have become an integral part of their life, and this must be upheld. God has said that we should love one another, and that nothing that we have or give can take the place of love. (1Corinthians Chapter 13) This is where the help is… if we do as God in Jesus Christ has commanded, he will help us (I am a witness). He will give us the strength, the endurance, the wisdom, and the power to care for one another. He will also help with our emotional needs as we may become tired, impatient, short tempered (and hopefully not abusive), and will grant us the peace that surpasses all understanding. Not stopping there, I find that the things that we wish for, or that we want to accomplish in life, will also be granted unto us; and, we will find that we have time in between our caretaking to be refreshed and encouraged ourselves; our own projects or dreams will be completed, as he blesses us. It’s all about the journey.