I loved the analogy in Evey’s Story Update by Cally Johnson, when she stated, “We continue to learn that our caregiving journey is a marathon and not a sprint.” The quote reminds me that often caregiving is a long run which tests endurance, rather than running full speed over a short distance. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility. A single life is busy enough, but add the care of another person and you may be dashing at full speed to doctor’s appointments, therapy and taking care of whatever other necessities they may have. How do we take care of all these responsibilities without exhaustion?
A few ideas I’ve come up with while thinking of Cally and Nate’s caregiving example:
- Make time for recreation. The Johnson’s take family vacations and do other fun activities often. From personal experience I know it’s not easy to pack up a family and go somewhere. When you have added equipment and medical issues, it becomes cumbersome and more difficult. Doing it anyway gives you a change of scenery, a break from routine and builds memories that get you through the hard times.
- Regular date nights. If you’re a couple caring for a child, it’s important to make time for your relationship. Hopefully during a date night you can forget about the cares at home and just enjoy one another’s company while building a stronger relationship. If you’re a caregiver to a spouse, dates are equally important for the same reasons. Hopefully you can forget you’re the caregiver for just a few hours while enjoying each others company, building a stronger relationship and just being a spouse for a time. Hopefully, your spouse will enjoy it too.
- Make time for yourself. Pursuing a hobby is refreshing, whether it’s reading, writing, gardening, sports or playing an instrument. Doing something you enjoy which rests your mind and body from the worry and care of another person builds strength for enduring the hard times.
- Be physically fit. Just as a marathon runner should train for a race, so should caregivers. A weak person is not capable of dressing, transferring, bathing, pushing wheelchairs, preparing meals and feeding another. Exercise improves muscle strength and boosts endurance. It’s essential for safely managing the physical help needed for your loved one. Don’t forget that exercise can also improve your mood and releases stress.
- Let others assist. If someone offers to help, let them. They will feel better and so will you. When they realize you’ll accept rather than reject their offer they may be encouraged to do more. Remember, a marathon runner gets encouragement from others, lots of drinks and snacks along the way. The support helps the runner complete the race. As Cally also stated, “There continue to be highs and lows and battles to fight, but we’re feeling more seasoned and continue to be in awe of all the goodness that surrounds us.” Let goodness surround you also.
What other tips do you have for the daily or weekly scurry to the finish line?