Caregiving takes a lot of energy and a lot of love, not to mention time and patience. There are days when it can feel as though all one does is talk to yet another doctor, pharmacy, or insurance provider, and then there are the days when all one hears are complaints. As a caregiver to an elderly person in your life, the fact is that you make a huge difference at a time when help is much-needed.
Caregiving can help us see what really matters in life. It has rewards that surprise us. These rewards allow us to say thank you to everyone in our own life that has helped us along the way.
A Sense of Purpose When Caring for a Senior Loved One
Life can sometimes be so busy that we forget what we are doing. Then something happens and we are called upon to contribute to another person’s well-being. A sudden sense of purpose can lead to a rising and unexpected sense of satisfaction.
Knowing that you are helping to keep another person safe and well cared for while they recover from an injury or simply grow old is a service that enriches one’s life in untold ways.
Connecting With Your Humanity
What does it mean to be human? One thing it means is to feel connected with the life happening around you. To be aware of the suffering and needs of other human beings.
Caregiving for another person is nothing if not a challenge. It is often stressful, demanding, and exhausting. It is also selfless and can bring out hidden resources and compassion within us.
For example, an adult child who wants to give back to a parent can find untold happiness in doing so. Along with significant challenges comes the experience of becoming closer to someone you have loved and who has loved you over your lifetime.
Caregiving and being cared for are intensely personal acts that can open a door to deeper, more meaningful conversations and understanding.
Caregiving is also an opportunity to resolve past hurts and hard feelings with someone you have had a hard time getting along with throughout your life. It allows you to see how vulnerable someone you may have thought of as invincible can be. With compassion, an experience like this can allow you to forgive the past.
This is not to say that it will be easy, but caring for seniors with disabilities provides opportunities for healing of both the person being cared for and the caregiver. It can allow you to gain a new perspective and to move on.
Focusing on the Important Things
Caring for our senior loved ones often helps us to develop a perspective that changes what is important to us. It can change our priorities and allow us to see what is simply inconsequential where before it seemed so important.
Our lives are fragile and finite and caring for senior loved ones has a way of helping us to sort the wheat from the chaff. It gives us an opportunity to identify and understand what is most important and most meaningful when it comes to living our lives.
While it is true that some families are torn apart by the struggles of caregiving, it is also true that many come together and work toward the common goal of helping someone who needs them and are strengthened by doing so.
Letting Go of the Myth of Control
Nothing teaches us that we are not in control of the universe quite like caregiving. It teaches you to be honest about what you can and cannot do. It teaches about not only taking care of another person, but about taking care of yourself as part of the process.
Confronting life and death issues and having tough talks is part of caregiving, as is breaking down the resistance to the realities of aging and eventual death.
Situations like these help families to have open dialogues about the realities that they are currently facing and will eventually face. Parents can more easily discuss with their own children what is working and not working as they face taking care of their aging parents and their children’s grandparents.
The Lesson for Younger Generations
Caring for others helps your own children and their friends understand caregiving as an integral part of life. It also helps young people understand the process of aging as a series of changing capabilities and needs.
While caregiving can be tough emotionally, mentally, and physically, the rewards can last a lifetime and the ripples of your actions may be felt far and wide.