Caregivers are fixers. If it isn’t right or if it needs a little tweak, we just take care of it. No complaints or requests for acknowledgements. So what happens when we can’t fix it? What happens when the disease is quick and unfixable? What happens if we must sit by and watch parts of our best friend go away forever?
The truth is every caregiver must face our limits at one point or another. This is the time we see the caregiver searching for answers, looking for the right way to accomplish the goal. We are not super humans, but there are times when we do forget we can’t fix everything. This is when caregivers begin to have emotional problems and need to take a break to reflect on what we (the caregiver) sees as the goal. We must ask ourselves is this goal realistic and will our friend be happy with the outcome.
As caregivers we look at a situation and develop plans for accomplishing the necessary route to secure those plans. And sometimes our plans are not the same as our friend. This is a problem because when everything comes together it is our friend’s life and they must live their life not us. We cannot literally be in their skin and manage all their needs. This situation seems to be more prevalent with couples who have been married 30 years or more. The husband and sometimes the wife feels they should protect and care for the spouse, after all they stood before all family and friends, religious leaders and swore to honor and cherish, be there in sickness and health and forsaking all others be there for their spouse.
Medical professionals need to recognize this struggle within the well spouse and counsel them on a realistic outcome. When death is unexpected there are triggers which medical professionals and family need to recognize and begin the healing process then by planting a seed of beyond human control and hope. Since this is very far reaching for medical professionals (due to suffering from the same misguided sense of not doing the right thing), families must stick together. Remembering that every family member is at a different place in the grieving cycle and this maybe with purpose. Each of us can reinforce the stunned recognition, anger, bargaining, guilt and finally knowing this is the way it was meant to be. Each county has an agency with a name similar to Area Agency on Aging, the staff are trained to help caregivers.
We are after all human and only able to fix some things. No one is meant to have the total responsibility of another human being rest on only their shoulders. This is why there are two parents; caregivers come in teams; clergy have more than one per house of worship and on and on. www.aarp.com