The mid-1960’s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie gave flight to images of rubbing that magic lamp found in a distant faraway desert and out pops the genie who could grant any wish imaginable. Oh if only that were the case – especially for so many caregivers with a multitude of tasks, often sandwiched between husband, children and an elderly parent or parents, always attempting to fit everyone’s schedule, often feeling frustrated, anxious and even depressed.
The reality of today is that according to the national Alliance for Caregiving, more than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. With six in ten family caregivers employed outside the home, this statistic also raises concern for businesses that can lose tremendous amount of money each year due to employees’ need to miss work time in order to care for family members.
While there are no magic lamps, at least none that I’ve found, to help us accomplish all the tasks and especially to give us the emotional and spiritual lift we often need to continue in our role as caregivers, there are ways we can create our own road to wholeness. Staying in touch with our core values and beliefs – whether or not we are religious or have a spiritual background – will help to guide and support us during this time.
This quote from the website CareConscious: Educating & Preparing Family Caregivers suggests a meaningful way of looking at and coping in our caregiving journey:
“Caregiving is a selfless act of love. It is never easy but can and should provide a new connection with your parent and add deeper meaning to your life. Spirituality is not predicated upon any certain religious belief – whether we are church deacons or confirmed atheists, we all have a spiritual side. We should express our unique spirituality and embrace it through the love we show as caregivers.”
If there is any magic to be found, it will be found in each of us as we take on the role of caregiver knowing that it is within our power to create that special feeling and provide tender care for our loved ones.
mmlearn.org provides over 300 free online videos for caregivers of older adults including videos on meditation, prayers for caregivers as well as some very practical videos on how to transfer someone from a wheelchair to a car or shower or how to hire a private duty caregiver.