Did you know it’s Caregiver Awareness Month? Three years ago, my life changed forever. My rider, my best friend, the one person who loved me unconditionally was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. My mother was my everything and the sweetest lady ever, everyone loved her. When we first found out about her sickness I was in denial and couldn’t believe what was going on, but I knew that I had to be there for her. All of our family members resided in the south so I was the only person who could step up and be my mothers’ caregiver.
Caring for someone you love who has to count down the days that they have left on earth is not an easy task. There were so many emotions that I went through, I realized that there were two ways to look at the situation; I could sit there and complain and wonder “why her?” or I could try and give my mother her wants and needs while on this journey. During that rough time, I’ve learned some caregiving tips and life lessons. Today I’m sharing some of my personal caregiving tips/experiences as part of AARP Caregiver Assistance Campaign #RealTalkAboutCare that I hope inspires all caregivers.
Take it one day at a time: Cancer is the one thing that you cannot plan for. Some days will be great and others will be really bad. Once you understand this you will be prepared for the worst.
Have Patience: I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t have patience. Being my mother’s caregiver taught me how to take my time and listen more not to just brush things/people off.
Appreciate the Simplicity In Life. As my mom’s cancer progressed, her enjoyment doing the simplest little activities heightened. I can remember huge smiles spread across my mom’s face when I asked her if she wanted to sit on the front porch. We made that an everyday routine, something so simple put a big smile on her face.
Think and be positive: Nobody wants to be around negative Nancy. Know what you’re up against and think of the positive versus the negative. We all die some sooner than later, as a caregiver, it’s your job to give whoever your caring for the best memories.
Be Your Own Medical Advocate. Remember, not all doctors are created equal. Get informed, get educated, and be your own advocate. Don’t be the one who is lost when the doctor talks about the next steps, you should be up on game and try to understand what’s best for the person that you’re caring for.
Keep a Sense of Humor: This was a hard one for me but my mother always kept a sense of humor, laughing and smiling throughout the entire journey.
Keep Your Expectations low: Some people you expect to be there simply won’t be. And others you never expected to lean on will be the first ones in line. Expecting too much from yourself and others will undoubtedly lead to disappointment.
Realize That Being A Caregiver Is An Honor: Having the complete awareness that caring for someone in their final stages of life is truly the most rewarding and sacred sacrifice you can make. I was blessed with the opportunity to care for my mom, my main goal was to always make sure that she was comfortable.
There’s no handbook for caregiving especially for caring for someone with cancer, you learn as you go. Caregiving can also be a financial burden. Luckily there are some online caregiving resources provided by AARP Here and Here that will help you along the way. I hope my caregiving tips were helpful and useful for those caring for their loved ones.
This post was sponsored by AARP. All opinions are my own.