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Rob Lowe: Caregivers Need to Care for Themselves, Too

Brooke Phillips, CWCMS
Editor | Shield HealthCare
12/24/18  3:45 PM PST
Rob Lowe Caregivers

Original article by Rob Lowe on USNews.com

Actor and former caregiver Rob Lowe says self-care is key for the millions of Americans who sacrifice for others each day.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE holidays, there are plenty of commercials that ask, “What do you give to the person who has everything?” But this year, on behalf of the millions of family caregivers across the country, I’d like to ask a different question:

What do you give to the person who does everything?

It’s a tough question, and there is no easy answer because every situation is different. How can you make life easier for a person who is fully responsible for managing their loved one’s health care while also juggling the responsibilities of their own life?

How can you invent more time in the day for the person who graciously takes around-the-clock care of their parent, their grandparent or their spouse, and never has time for themselves? And for those caregivers who always feel like they should be doing more, how can they grant themselves the gift of forgiveness and understanding that there’s only so much time in the day and they’re doing the best they can?

No one gift can possibly alleviate all of the stress and worry that family caregivers endure, or heal the wide range of physical and emotional duress that a person can experience as they care for a loved one in need. But as a former caregiver myself, I think the real key for us as a society is to start asking these questions in the first place, so future generations of caregivers will know that they don’t have to do everything alone.

This year, I collaborated with EMD Serono and Embracing Carers to help raise awareness of the challenges that family caregivers face. On Twitter and Instagram, I heard from hundreds of people who serve as the primary caregiver for their parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses, children, in-laws and friends. Their stories are profoundly inspiring, and I know that each of them is doing everything they can to help someone they love, often at a great personal cost.

I know this because I’ve done it myself.

In my 20s, I watched my stepmother care for my father as he battled lymphoma, and I also saw the toll that level of stress took on her, and on their marriage.

A decade later, when my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, I learned the wonderful and challenging art of caregiving firsthand as my brothers and I cared for our mother from the beginning of her diagnosis to the very end. Luckily, we were able to share that stress; if any one of us had to do it all alone, I don’t know how we would have coped.

So this holiday season, I’d like to encourage the caregivers of the world to give themselves a gift: Take care of yourselves.

From my own experience, I know that if you don’t take the time to care for yourself, you won’t have the strength, the patience and the emotional reserves you need to care for anyone else. Our love and energy is a battery, and it needs to be replenished before it runs out.

The holidays can be especially taxing on caregivers because of all the added scheduling challenges and tough questions from visiting family members. Some visitors may offer to help, but caregiving is often a very particular routine between two people that doesn’t allow for easy substitutions. As a caregiver, don’t be afraid to set boundaries that you and your cared-for patient will both need in order to survive the holidays with your stress level and your sanity intact.

Likewise, if you offer to help a caregiver and they decline, please don’t take it personally. They may not be able to explain how you could be helpful in that moment, but just by offering, you’ve let them know that you’ll be there for them when they really do need it.

Lastly, don’t forget about yourself. Caregiving can become an all-consuming act of service that absorbs every hour in the day, and it can cause those of us who are fortunate enough to become caregivers to sometimes feel as if we’re losing our own identities in the process. So this holiday season, find even a few minutes each day to focus on yourself, your dreams and what you bring to the world. Trust me, your loved ones want you to be your best self, and you deserve it.

If you are or recently have been a caregiver, I want to wish you more than just a happy and peaceful holiday. I also want to say congratulations, and thank you. You are doing one of life’s most difficult jobs, and you deserve all the help, love and support you can get, even if you don’t know where to start.

Luckily, the internet is filled with caregiver resources and support groups that can introduce you to peers who understand exactly what you’re going through and help you map out your self-care resolutions for the new year.

And with tens of millions of unpaid family caregivers in the United States alone, someone in your life is a caregiver right now, and they’ll be grateful to know that you care enough to ask: “What can I do for the person who’s doing everything?”

-Rob Lowe, Contributor

Read original article on USNews.com

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Gladys M.
    Posted January 15, 2019 at 9:57 am PDT

    Most people don’t under stand how someone can give up most of their time to care for other people. Well it isn’t just a job, it is a way of life. You need to be caring, etc. It is not about the money. It is supporting and doing your job and love what you do.

  2. Posted February 2, 2019 at 11:56 pm PDT

    I have been caring for my mom, for 21 years. My mom is the sweetest person, I have ever met. While other go on with their lives, I have incorporated my mons life into mine. Yes it’s not easy and you cant be selfish with your time. All the Dr appointment and scheduling you have to juggle are wearing. But like my wonderful amazing husbands says, when you do the right thing God blesses you. My mom’s happy and loved, and very well cared for, that my reward. I know when my mom is no longer here, I will have no regret I did the best I could to make her feel special and loved. ❤️

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