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   Giving Thanks for Being a Caregiver

Much of the adjustment that goes into being a caregiver for your aging parent goes into dealing with the stress and the emotional drain that role can bring. In addition to the issues of how to care for her in the best possible way, there are the emotions of anger when programs don’t work right or when the facility she is in has problems. There is resentment at other siblings or even at your aging parent because of the demands this job has on you personally.

There are other adjustments that are a huge drain on you emotionally. Balancing work, home and private life with the demands on your time being a caregiver requires is a juggling act that will involve as many “dropped balls” as successes before you ever get it right. And about the time you do get a good balance, the demands of your elderly parent might change and you are again pulled back into that stressful situation.

So you have to think about ways you can offset the demands on you and try to take some time for you and for your family. These are all difficult emotions which may be why it takes a real adult to be a caregiver for an elderly person. But there is one emotion you may wish to foster and dwell on as much as you can to offset the worry, the anxiety, the anger and the resentment. That is the emotion of thankfulness.

Now it may seem impossible to even ponder how thankfulness could become part of your emotional reaction to this demanding situation you find yourself in. But if you can find ways to be thankful that you are the caregiver for your parent, that positive emotion can do wonders to drive out those negative emotions in your heart. And when you think about it, there are quite a few great things you can be thankful for BECAUSE you are the primary caregiver for your aging parent. Some of those are…

. You are able to give back a bit of the sacrifices they made to raise you. The amount of time and money and emotional effort your parents used up on you as a child is something that can never be repaid. But you are giving a little bit back in caring for them when they are old to say, “Thank you for raising me and never giving up on me. And now I am not going to give up on you.”
. There would be anxiety if you were not here. If you were far away in another state, you would be a basket case if you didn’t know your mom or dad’s medical condition. So by being close, you can get the facts quickly and get them right which cuts down on all of those “what if” bad dreams about your mom and dad.
. You always know what’s going on. There are a lot of “false alarms” with an elderly person. They need someone that can say, “It’s all right. It’s under control” to them. That someone is you.
. You are needed and you are important to your elderly mom or dad. If ever there was a time when you felt needed not just every so often but every day and every hour of the day it is when you are there to help your parents through this tough time of their lives.
. Celebrate those little times of laughter and joy. Celebrate when you enjoy a movie together or laugh at those “insider” family jokes that always bring a smile. Those times will be precious to you when your parent goes on to their reward some day.

There is something deep inside us that feels a sense of completion when we are able to stay with someone we love through a very tough time. Your love for your parent and between you and her will deepen and grow stronger in a way that will stay with you for the rest of your life. 

And even after your parent goes on to their eternal reward, you will be able to look back on those months when you gave all you could to make those final months of her life happy and peaceful and you will be able to say, “I did the right thing.” And that is one feeling that is irreplaceable and something you will be able to be thankful for forever.