Caregiving comes in various forms and different levels. Perhaps you provide care for a friend, spouse, sibling, child, or aging family member. Your support role may last a few weeks or years.
Your ascent to caregiving may involve a slow climb or be thrust upon you suddenly via an emergent situation. Regardless of how caregiving arrives, it can feel like taking teetering steps onto a tight rope with no balance pole for support. Don’t panic. With God’s help, you can navigate the journey ahead.
Following are suggestions to consider when serving as a caregiver:
Lower Your Expectations
Caregiving is exhausting, both physically and emotionally, but most of us expect more of ourselves than is reasonably possible. When you step into a caregiving role, other commitments may need to be sidelined for a while. You don’t have to juggle every ball thrown your way or handle caregiving alone. Learn to say no, but also, learn to ask for and accept help.
Recognize Needs Beyond the Obvious
The emotional and spiritual needs of those in your care aren’t always as obvious as physical needs. Learn to see beyond the obvious. Remember, anger and harsh words are often a cover for loss of control or fear of what lies ahead. Recognize fears and frustrations and respond with care, compassion, and encouragement, even when it takes great effort on your part.
Often someone emerges spouting myriad suggestions and criticizing your efforts without offering practical support in return. Other times, you are your own worst critic. Reject criticism, theirs and yours, and pray for wisdom to carry out your caregiving duties to the best of your ability.
Guard Your Health
While I was caregiver for my mother, I put off going to the doctor. I kept thinking the pace would moderate and a gap would appear that allowed me to schedule a checkup. Three years later, my health was a mess. It took five years of intentional self-care to regain my health. Make your own health a priority as you care for others.
Stay Connected Spiritually
Often, your spiritual life suffers when serving as a caregiver, but spiritual food is as important as food for the body. Carve out time amid caregiving duties for prayer, quiet reflection, journaling, and study. You will benefit from stepping away from the caregiving pace to renew your mind and spirit. Spiritual renewal fuels forward motion.
The Gift of Care
At times, caregiving is tough, but the care you provide others is a gift that eases suffering and provides support. You may find yourself having hard conversations about end-of-life wishes, eternity, and comforting fears about the uncertainties of last days. Listen patiently and answer compassionately.
In the future, you may face similar questions and need similar care. Give to those in your care with the same level of interest and concern you hope to receive. God will bless you, now and in the days ahead, for serving as a caregiver.
“So seize every opportunity the Lord gives you to do good things and be a blessing to everyone, especially those within our faithful family” (Galatians 6:10 VOICE).
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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