I had a powerful conversation with a caregiver, and as I listened intensely to the concerns that are now confronting the family, one word repeated during our conversation was “I.” Here is some of the dialogue: I don’t think my loved one needs my help to put shoes on. I don’t think my loved one needs the walker to move around. If my loved one tries harder, I feel they can go to the bathroom without my help.
The power of “I “ as a family caregiver caring for an ageing parent with mobility and chronic illnesses can be self-centred for several reasons. One real reason is that watching our loved ones age and lose their ability to care for themselves is not easy. During my caregiver journey, I made this statement…”I never wanted to be my mother’s mother.” Over time, that is exactly what “I” became. What “I” had to come to grips with was it was no longer about me and what “I” wanted or needed. It was about my loved one’s met needs. They could no longer care for themself. Think about it: an independent person can no longer care for themselves. Put yourself in the shoes of another person who needs your help to bathe, eat, dress, go to the toilet, or use the activities of their limbs.
Changing Caregiver Mindset
Becoming a caregiver requires changing your mindset and putting yourself in the care recipient’s place. The shift is not always easy because we use our mindset to make decisions. We must grow our mindset to consider the overall needs of our loved ones and act accordingly for care and safety’s sake. In caregiving, we must have a winning mindset and avoid all negative mindsets. Caregiving is hard work, and staying positive amid the caregiving journey is how we prevail as caregivers. As your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, focus on the care recipient, not on the “I” desire to want your loved one as they once were. Appreciate your gift of caregiving. Remember, we all are pilgrims passing through and none of us will get out of here alive. Be safe! Be well!
Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager, CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers.