Caregiving as a Shared Journey

Welcome back! I am excited to share some fresh insights for our quarterly caregiving blog. This quarter, I will discuss caregiving in the context of a shared journey and partnership.

The dynamics of caregiving as a partnership are complex and have shown that transitions such as entry into caregiving, institutionalization, and bereavement can significantly impact the well-being of caregivers and the nature of their relationships with those around them. Statistics tell us that it can be a tough transition, no matter how you prepare. So what can we do, despite what the odds are telling us? 

Choose Your Partner and Your Circle Wisely

We do not know what the future holds. When you take that vow of marriage before God, for better or for worse, you aren’t thinking a decade into the marriage when you are moving a parent in with Alzheimer’s. Or how much of a financial strain it is to put a parent in a care facility.

Before choosing to go on life’s journey with a partner, there are some important things to consider. Ask yourself if you feel confident that this person will care for you and that you would care for them. Are they patient? How are their problem-solving skills? What is their relationship like with their parents? How is their relationship with God? What are their views on ever having to move a parent into the home? Youth usually gives us the privilege of not having to think of these things early on, but it is crucial when choosing a partner. 

Considering these circumstances does not only apply to your life partner but to your friends as well. They will not be in the day-to-day like a spouse, but they could be on the sidelines ready to jump in when needed. They are the ones that will sit with Mom and watch a game show while you take a quick nap. Or bring you dinner after a long day of doctor’s appointments. Make good decisions about those close to you early on. When the challenges come, you know you have a circle that you can rely on 

Communicate Your Concerns

Communication is the cornerstone of any partnership, especially one that involves caregiving. Open, honest dialogues help in understanding the needs, concerns, and expectations of everyone involved.  It’s about creating a safe space where vulnerabilities can be shared without judgment and decisions can be made collectively.

There is freedom in discussing what truly concerns us with our prayer partners.

The caregiver can be concerned about losing their independence.

A spouse can feel uneasy about losing autonomy in their home.

A teenager in the household can be apprehensive about potentially having increased responsibilities.

When we express our concerns out loud, we now have the power to make a game plan to address them. This dialogue must be continuous so everyone feels heard, even as circumstances change. 

The Tests will Come. How Will You Handle Them? 

As many of you know, my mother lived with my husband and me until her earthly journey ended in 2022. Shortly after her passing my husband’s father was hospitalized for an extended time. Upon his discharge, we moved his parents next door to us.   While grieving the loss of my mother, I was also adjusting to a new reality. My husband supported me as we cared for my mother. Why wouldn’t I do the same? Although we are still adjusting to our new normal, we talk about it, pray about it, and are confident that God will see us all through.

When the unexpected occurs, whether it is an aging parent, changes in finances, or changes in health, how will you handle it? I encourage you to operate in faith and understanding as you navigate life’s inevitables. 

Define Responsibilities 

Defining responsibilities is a fancy way of saying who does what, where, and how often. I will start by saying this—defining responsibilities is the only way you’ll keep your sanity in a caregiving partnership. They help distribute the load and promote a balanced life for everyone involved. Whether it’s defining who manages medication schedules or attending medical appointments, sharing tasks can strengthen the bond and enhance the sense of teamwork. There is joy and strength in knowing you are not alone. 

Will it always be perfect? No. Will you need to pick up where your partner falls short at times? Absolutely. But know that as we go through life, we inevitably encounter unexpected situations. What is most important through all of this is that you keep your connection with God and each other. 

Embrace the Shared Journey

Caregiving is a challenging journey that requires strong partnerships with those around you.  It is important to choose your partner and circle wisely, communicate your fears and concerns openly, handle unexpected situations with faith and understanding, and define responsibilities. Through it all, keeping God first and maintaining a connection with those around will provide a sense of peace, no matter the chaos around you. 

Continue to follow our caregiving blog series at https://www.drjeanneporterking.com/caregivers-corner/

1 Comment

  1. Amy Neal

    Choose Wisely and Carefully. Proactive equitable load distribution based on emotional , physical, and financial capacity is key. It may alleviate & prevent confusion, resentment.

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