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