Topic: Caregivers: Encouragement on the Journey
One will likely find himself or herself in the role of caregiver of someone aging, persistently ill, or managing one with a disability. Although it is a role many are unprepared for, out of love, obligation, or a combination of both, the journey begins. When one takes an oath not to harm, the commitment is based on the care of others. My first love, nursing, and all its glory started with God allowing me to use my professional training to participate in“the laying on of the hands.” It is a ministry displaying an external expression of care. Over my career, working within the walls of an enormous tertiary hospital in the Texas Medical Center, Houston, and even in my personal journey of caring for my mother, the universal desire was centered on care, compassion, empathy, and safety.
There is no algorithm to care for others, no secret sauce or unique concoction necessary. It starts with a yearning to help and a heart to serve. It begins with the spirit that considers putting yourself in the place of someone needing care. Ask yourself, what would you want if you were the care recipient? I cannot tell you how often I would ask myself that question. It was never about my ability to perform any task to duty; it was because I wanted my mommy back, doing all the things she did so well. I did not want to be my mother’s mother. I knew I had to be her voice. You too, must be the voice for loved ones. Your journey is to remain vigilant with honor, knowing that gratitude will be priceless. I uncovered that caring for someone builds a form of resilience. For me, resilience on the other side of caregiving is sharing my care journey with others. I speak hope and healing to others facing a caregiving journey. There is no dollar amount that can be paid for unselfish service to others.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I am encouraging you. Your service to others is not in vain. Know that joy and sadness can occur simultaneously. Caregivers face chaotic periods on the journey but know you have strength and determination within you. Find power in knowing you are there for the loved ones who cannot take care of themselves. Tell yourself you are doing a good job. Exhale, and start each day with grateful gratitude. 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