by Rhonda Baze
Have you seen that commercial for the cognition enhancing medication that has been on TV lately? The wife says that she is his sunshine and he has always been her everything…. It brings to mind the many ways we show love on a daily basis to those we care for. Love isn’t always about emotion; sometimes it’s giving your time to someone who is lonely or a friend who is frightened because of a new diagnosis. Love sometimes is laughing together because things are just so confusing or sitting quietly together when no words will come. You may have heard it said that Love is an action word. Suppose we define love as: seeing a need, knowing you have the resources to meet that need, and then taking action.
But what about when love becomes emotionally or physically difficult for the person giving the love? What then? Are you a failure when you cannot meet the need presented to you? In his book When Love Gets Tough, Doug Manning speaks to this at length. As a matter of fact, Chapter 1 is titled “Love is Doing What People Need-Not What They Want”. Our lives can be completely consumed with caring for someone we love. There can be ‘very little life of your own. The house can become your whole world. There are no vacations, no nights out, no weekends off. Every decision has to be made in the light of how care could be provided for the loved one” (paraphrased from Manning’s book). “On the surface it seems that love would mean we would care for our loved ones at home no matter what the cost. It might be true if the cost was ours alone. The fact is the cost is NOT ours alone” according to Manning, “The people we take into our home must also pay a cost. It costs their privacy. It costs them social contact. It costs them the meeting of their physical needs.”
When caring for a loved one, there is also a cost to our other relationships. We become more isolated from friends and family. Our relationships with children, grandchildren, and friends often suffer. Don’t be afraid to admit that you are tired and need a break occasionally, ask for help. Tell friends when you are lonely, and plan to spend some time with them, talking about your feelings can help. It also provides a way for those that love you to know what your needs are at the moment. Remember that there are people out there who love you and want to show you love… let them! When friends offer to help, let them! And don’t feel guilty when someone does help you… let them show YOU love!
Often there is a physical cost when caring for a loved one also. The simple act of helping another person up and down out of chairs, helping with meal preparation, extra housekeeping and/or laundry takes its toll. According to an article on AgingCare.com, “Many caregivers taking care of parents or grandparents are simply not suited for such physical stress. With the physical demands of physically lifting, turning and transferring loved ones, injury is common. In fact, it is estimated that musculoskeletal injuries that occur as a result of lifting or moving patients affects nearly 52 percent of caregivers. Most caregivers in home environments are in their 40s, and 50s. Keeping them, as well as their loved ones, safe and healthy is vital. Learning how to practice good body mechanics in all aspects of home care is essential in preventing injuries.”
There are community resources available to help. Having help from friends, family, or paid caregivers is meeting the need. It does not have to be you all the time. Oklahoma DHS, Department of Aging is a great resource to find help for caring for seniors. There are respite vouchers available to provide paid caregivers to step in when time away is needed. There are Veterans benefits that also pay for caregivers to provide care. Senior Centers are an excellent way for loved ones to stay connected with people their own age, engage in social activities, and have a meal, all while providing a break for caregivers and sometimes provide transportation to and from there.
So when love gets tough… we do the best we can. We make decisions based on the best options we have available to us and the information that we have at the time. The possibilities are endless to show love to others, but loving and caring does not have to consume our daily lives. We can be their “sunshine”, and they can be our “everything”. Love takes seeing a need and taking steps to meet that need… while loving ourselves too.
Right Choice Personal Assistance would be happy to talk to you about your needs and to help you get connected to resources for those needs. Call today 405-595-7066 and let us help you get started.