Embracing a Heart for Caregiving

By Denise Evans

Some may call it crazy, but I call it God leading the way.

My journey to embracing a heart for caregiving started when my dad called and expressed that he needed assistance. I was living in Oklahoma at the time and within a week, gave up my job, my home, and my life and moved back to Chicago. My unconditional love for my father drove me to be there for him in his time of need. Little did I know I would be walking a challenging path that would lead me to my destiny. 

I have fully surrendered to God’s plan for my life. I’m talking about FULL surrender. Not half surrender or  “ I hear you but I’m still going to do what I want” kind of surrender. It is going where God says to go even when I don’t fully understand.  God has opened doors for me and I simply walk through them. My close relationship with God has given me the discernment to know when there is a stirring in my spirit for me to make a move. 

You and God have to be close! Working on that relationship will empower you to know when God is speaking to you. It will grant you so much peace and understanding.

Navigating the unexpected

When I moved back to Chicago, I walked into a disaster. I had to navigate the mountain of paperwork associated with my father’s care and his health started to deteriorate. For two days, he complained of having trouble breathing. He said he was fine (of course an answer I did not accept!). After insisting on a hospital visit, he was diagnosed with Pneumonia, and soon after with Alzheimer’s.

I was overwhelmed but remained prayerful. To maintain an income, I got into an agency that paid me to care for my father. I operate in transparency and the truth is that the agency training was subpar and I still struggled.  But God answers prayers in ways that you least expect and I met a friend through church who transformed my life. 

She asked that I take care of her parents at a fee and the first answer was NO.  I was barely functioning as a caregiver for my father. But I had to remember that I follow God, and not feelings of fear! I eventually said “yes” and my life instantly transformed. She showed me what it meant to be an excellent advocate and caregiver. I thank God for her friendship and example because it inspired me to be passionate about caring for my father. 

Let God lead you and fully surrender. His plans for your life and caregiving journey are greater than you could ever imagine!

Taking Care of Me

As the sole full-time caregiver for my father, I knew I needed help to deal with my emotions. Seeking out therapy was a must for me. 

“I’m angry” were the first words I said to my therapist. He let me vent about being drained, having no help, and trying to function on a limited income.  He then told me something that transformed my mindset 

“I don’t want you to be angry at anybody anymore. What you are carrying is not a burden, it is a calling. God has called YOU to do this work, everybody does not  have the heart for this.” 

This is when everything clicked for me.  God had called ME to take care of my father. Not my siblings, or any other family member. This is when I began embracing a heart for caregiving and grew to love it.

Seek therapy as I did. The perspectives can change your life. Caregiving is ultimately a calling from God to care for one of God’s precious children at a time of transition in their life. Fully accept the assignment and watch God transform your heart!

Advocacy is the MOST important task of a Caregiver

In caring for my father, I learned the importance of advocacy. Caring for someone in their final years is a divine task! There is no slacking; no delay. As advocates, we are fighting for the well-being of those that deserve the best care. 

  • Advocacy is building a community of people who care for and support your loved one
  • Advocacy is asking for a second medical opinion
  • Advocacy is holding the doctors and medical team accountable
  • Most importantly, advocacy is a show of love and respect

Care and advocate for others as you would want someone to care for you. Let that lead and motivate your decisions.

What to look for in a Home Caregiver

Caring for my father led me to realize I have the heart to care for others. God opened the door for me to do this through my private care business, Relief at Home. Just as God has blessed me, I would also like to bless readers with tips on what to look for in a home caregiver. 

So what makes a great home caregiver? 

  • They show up every day with a smile on their face. 
  • They immediately get to know the client’s dietary needs and medication schedule. 
  • They check in emotionally and physically. 
  • They are positive, happy, and caring. 
  • They ensure cleanliness.
  • They treat your loved one like family. 
  • They communicate and give daily reports. 
  • They show love and respect to their patients. 

Accept nothing less than that. Call and call again until you get the perfect fit. 

The companionship, the care, the daily conversations, fresh bed sheets, and knowing to turn the channel to their favorite game show everyday matters. Choose someone who operates from a place of love, care, and respect.

I believe that God has been preparing me for this very time in my life. My journey to embracing a heart for caregiving has been challenging, joyous, emotional, and rewarding. Even in times of uncertainty, God has been working on me and I know God is doing the same for you!

-Denise

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

5 Comments

  1. Rev. Dr. Tony C. Evans

    A beautiful story and testament of how God lays out Purpose. Many run away from it, those that embrace realize the blessings that come as a result. What God has for you, it is for you! Claim it, implement it and receive the fruits from it! To God be the Glory!

  2. Chris

    This I see is a calling and understanding the task given, along with having the energy, focus, physical ability, along with the emotional side was all God working through you.

  3. Darlene Norman

    What an insightful and beautifully written piece, so very encouraging. Embracing the situation makes all the difference, thank you for this. It is powerful and applicable in many other circumstances. May God continue to bless and prosper your business

  4. Ilonia G.

    Thanks Denise and Dr. J for this blog. As we grow older we realize the necessity for excellent care-giving. Denise embraces the role with the heart and conviction needed during these times.

    God bless her for her ministry and you Dr. J for sharing this story!

  5. Pamela R. McDaniels

    An absolutely a beautiful “share” Denise, my Sister, and Covenant Friend in business! Thanks so much Dr. Jeanne for this story and blog journey. As I reflect on my experiences as a caregiver, your story is a huge reminder that there is an enormous need for what we do and rarely discussed. People truly need help with knowledge and information on where to turn when they are faced with the need for help caring for themselves or someone they love! “everyone will either be a caregiver or need a caregiver!”

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