Lunar New Year greetings!
As much as I would like to say I hope you had a good break over the holidays, I know that caregivers do not always have that luxury. Prioritizing our loved ones over ourselves is natural, as their needs and degree of reliance far surpass ours. However, I was recently reminded how important it is for caregivers to indulge in a little self-care to sustain them on this journey, which can often be long and lonely.
In the course of my work, I met a caregiver who looks after his wife, a stroke victim, on a full-time basis. With no source of income to pay for a helper, and with negligible family support, he could not leave her side, not even to seek medical assistance for himself when he accidentally suffered a deep cut and was bleeding profusely. When I brought up the notion that he had to first look after himself before he could care for her to the best of his ability, he tearfully uttered, clearly exhausted, and at the end of his tether: “How?”
How indeed, when your loved one is completely dependent on you for sustenance and attention? It is certainly not easy. Perhaps in this gentleman’s case, he could start with having short breaks in between feeds and baths or following some short exercise videos found online. A win-win solution that allows him some time for himself without leaving the home will need creativity, but that is a trait that caregivers handling tricky and unexpected situations already have. More importantly, I would say to all caregivers, talk to someone or find a support group of fellow caregivers – they already understand what you are going through. You may have a long road ahead but it does not have to be a lonely one. This is what CaringSG strives to achieve: For Caregivers, By Caregivers.
I hope you find your win-win solution soon. And meanwhile, just in case you have not said it to yourself lately: you are doing a great job.