We all make the decision to become a caretaker for different reasons- love, compassion, responsibility, obligation, finances- or simply because there is no one else. My reasons are probably a combination of all of those and a few more. But, the why of it all isn't important. It doesn't matter how we got here. We are here. And, I know that most people who know a caregiver would love to help, if they only knew how. I have some suggestions on how to help. I am not speaking for anyone but me. Other caregivers may or may not feel this way.
-Please do not tell me how to care for my loved one. I appreciate suggestions, or "have you tried..." But, when you tell me the right way to do something, or start your advice with "You need to..." or "You should...", I am hearing that you have been here every day with me and know what I have tried and haven't tried. I also hear that I am not good enough. When I hear a suggestion, I hear that you are not questioning my care... you are supporting me and helping me to be a better caregiver.
-Please encourage me to share my feelings. And remind me that my feelings are normal.
-If you don't want me to talk about my situation, then please don't ask. I know it gets old hearing the negativity about it. But, there isn't a part of my life that this does not effect. Please realize that this situation, and the incredible responsibility of it, is always at the top of my mind
-Please, please, don't call me a hero. Or a saint. I'm not. The horrible things that come out of my mouth daily are not words from a saint or a hero. They shame me. I do not feel worthy of the praise.
-Most of the articles and blogs that I have read suggest that stepping in for a caregiver so that they can get out for a few hours would be the greatest help. For me, it wouldn't. And I would never accept. I would appreciate and cherish the offer, but I would be so worried about YOU, that I would never enjoy my time. And, I guarantee that you wouldn't enjoy yours either.
-The best thing that you can do to help is something that most of you already do... you are here supporting me and reminding me that I am not alone. And that help is truly and deeply appreciated.