Hello everyone, and thank you for visiting!
For the past 3 years I have been a caretaker for my father. People call him “Gummy”! (he always carried Beechnut Chewing Gum in his front shirt pocket and distributed it generously to anyone.) He is a farmer and coal miner all of his life. He loves to travel, people watch, family man, meeting new interesting people. Most of all he loves traveling to Kentucky to attend American Saddlebred Horse Shows. He is an avid fan of this breed and raised this breed of horses when we were growing up.
My husband and I decided to move back home to be closer and care for him (89yrs) and family. So during the past 3 year the word “caretaker” has been my chosen job. “Caretaker”, is someone who provides care for another. This word does not even come close to our relationship. It’s daughter, friend, social coordinator, financial confidant, gourmet , driver, travel companion, and dinner date, (dinner out, we call date night). It’s all good. Whew!! Doing all of this requires a strong body and mind. My body, when lifting him when he falls, maneuvering a wheelchair. (I am no spring chicken). My mind when he forgets who I am or where he is. Don”t get me wrong, dad is great on most every day. He is a good conversationalists, and knowledgeable on many topics.
The caretaker part is not easy, and HUGE learning curve! Slow laborious lessons, most not so nice. The lessons are real highs and lows and are emotional driven. Others, judge your decision-making, your reactions, and the choices that you make. It is difficult and at times have been extremely stressful. We all have loved ones that need to be cared for even children with special needs. This topic is about surviving and coping during stressful times in our lives. Life is how you handle it! With that said, learning how to strengthen my own coping skills, which is so very important when dealing with life’s situations.
Stress is defined as any disturbance. For example: heat or cold, chemical toxins, physical trauma, and strong emotional situations. Comprehensive stress management involves a truly Holistic approach designed to counteract the everyday stresses of life. If stress is extreme or goes unnoticed and long-lasting, the stress response can be overwhelming and harmful to every body part.
Heat or Cold: Being protected from the environment.
Chemical Toxins: Smoking,drinking in excess, plastics, and electronics, and the Western Diet.( refined sugars, lack of fiber in the diet, excess salt, high fructose corn syrup, and unnecessary additives.
Physical trauma: A direct injury to our body in any way.
Strong Emotional Situations: Such as caregivers, loss of a loved one.
Here are some of the changes that I have made to strengthen my coping skills:
I bought a new puppy (Finn), she loves to walk. I walk, reflect, give thanks, plan and forgive. It has made a great difference in strengthening my coping skills. At least I feel much stronger when coping with caring. I love walking especially in the woods. WALKING is still the best exercise on a daily basis. I know it is making me sound old but the truth. You don’ t need an I pod to motivate your walk. It’s a peaceful environment and OH! what it does for the mind.
Retain an outsider (beyond the family) that can help you with caretaking. Let him/her do as much as she can, especially with the maintenance of the home, cleaning and laundry. Just being able to get out for a while to do grocery shopping and retrieve meds. Confide in a friend to talk to, keep your husband or wife out of it!!! Big mistake.
Eat well, sleep well, don’t lose sight of who you are and how important you are, Get a professional hair cut, put some lipstick on!!! You will be happier and a better caretaker. Love lots and forgive mostly yourself..
Color your world with comfort and calm: Blues and greens, puffy pillows and cozy blankets in a spot where you can read and relax with your down time.
Remember make a memory every day, and don’t apologize for who you are.