Revisiting Hope for the Caregiver

JUNE 11, 2024  /  KELLI NAPOTNIK  / 

Revisiting Hope for the Caregiver
Recently, a close, elderly friend of mine sustained a knee injury that couldn't be operated on. Friends and family immediately sent out group texts asking who could stay with her if she was sent home early because of not qualifying for physical therapy. I'm happy to report that she did qualify and was able to receive the necessary therapy and care. Afterwards, I was discussing with my family how challenging it is as caregivers to manage an unexpected need to step in, whether permanently or temporarily.
I wanted to revisit the topic of hope for caregivers and share ways to minimize feelings of being overburdened or burnt out. Our team is aware that many of you are in similar roles and need encouragement and support. A book we've shared before is The Art of Caregiving by Michael S. Barry, who shares his experience as director of pastoral care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. We still find this book full of inspiration and practical ideas, and we think you will too.
Here are FIVE helpful reminders on how to care for yourself when you find yourself filling the caregiver role:
Embrace that life is short - for everyone
If the situation feels overwhelming as a caregiver (or patient), focus on the day in front of you. Take small steps forward in finding balance in your life. Every day is a choice and new day.
Michael said of all the advice he shares with cancer patients, few are repeated more than this:
"All we have is today. Twenty-four hours. We can choose to fill our time doing things that bring us some sense of happiness or joy, or we can spend it being depressed, unhappy and pessimistic."
Choose to do things that bring happiness
As a caregiver for someone with a life-threatening disease, choosing to live in hope and share that hope-filled joy with your loved one is important. This doesn't mean to dismiss reality but to rather focus on lifting a person's spirit.
Read a book together, watch a movie, listen to music you enjoy or share family stories to document. We often mistakenly believe happiness is found when all problems are removed. This is not true. Responding to life's difficulties with faith and optimism gives the patient the best possibility of recovery.
Plant positive flowers
Plant flowers in your mind instead of letting weeds like worry and negativity flourish. This takes intentional concentration. Michael also reminds caregivers they must take care of their own needs first.
A caregiver's mind must be intentionally cultivated and filled with flowers of positive thinking. Then they will have the capacity to help their patient focus on the positive flowers too. Michael plants a flower for caregivers to hear:
"You are a wonderfully courageous person who is daring to help a good friend. The world needs more people like you."
Create an action plan every day
As a caregiver your to-do list or action plan guides the day, provides structure and intentionally includes meaningful and interesting activities. The caregiver and patient can create this action plan together.
A plan increases the chance the patient will complete worthwhile goals and tasks that are meaningful to them. Being intentional will also help them to focus on what's truly important. Your action plan is just a guide and helps to make every minute count.
Take good care of yourself
If you are a loved one's caregiver, you play an important role on the health-care team. You are an invaluable advocate for your loved one. Your influence, encouragement and tangible care make a difference.
For all the caregivers, take really good care of yourself. The world needs more fierce, loyal and kind-hearted people like you.
We're putting together a list of your caregiver tips. Tell us what supports you as a caregiver the most. We'll then share the replies (without names!) on Facebook, Instagram and a future blog post!

Revisiting Hope for the Caregiver

Our Meal Taking Monday video series was a hit! In May, we created a series of videos to give you ideas for full meals to take to your friends along with recipes and packaging tips. We know it's helpful to see a full meal prepared for a friend if you haven't taken many meals to others or need some inspiration. All of the recipes we used can be found in this handy document.
Here are the video links:

Read other recent articles by Kelli Napotnik:

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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

Welcome! We're thrilled you stopped by. Our own joys and sorrows have taught us that a well-timed meal delivered by a friend is one of the best gifts imaginable. In this space, we share our favorite recipes to take to friends, meal-taking tips, and other ways to care for those who are dear to you.

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