Caregiver Contest Runner Up Gina: Be Kind

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
03/08/18  1:16 PM PST
Be Kind

Gina H. is a wife and mother who has lived in San Antonio, Texas all her life. She has been an advocate for special needs students and caregiver to her special needs sons. After learning that her advice to fellow caregivers ranked among other winners, she wrote to tell us how honored she was.

What advice would you give a fellow caregiver?

Be kind.

If you can remember those two words with every challenge in your care giving you will you will reap the full reward of your responsibility and dedication.

Firstly, surround yourself with kind people. People who celebrate your choice to be a caregiver. They will be an encouragement to you. When I first learned of my son’s disabilities I was a member of a church that wasn’t very supportive. Instead of encouraging me, they judged me. They implied that I didn’t have enough faith for my sons to be healed. I was young in my both my age and in my faith. I took their treatment of me and my special family to heart. What I can’t believe most is that I stuck around that church for years. Trying to fit in. Feeling frustrated. And, not fully accepting the BEAUTY of my special sons. I will never have that time back. I needed kindness. I needed to show kindness to my special sons instead of frustration and feelings of unworthiness. Kindness begets kindness.

Secondly, be kind not only to your loved one or patient, but to yourself.  Give yourself time out and a second chance. As many times in a day as necessary. The shame that was put upon me at that church seeped into my relationship with my husband. Everyone kept telling me how fortunate I was to have a husband who wouldn’t leave me and our special boys, because most marriages with that much strain do usually end in divorce. So, I made up my mind that the brunt of the care would be on my shoulders. I spent 17yrs never sleeping in, weekend or not. Day after day, except for Mother’s Day and my birthday, when would I request rest and help from my husband. He worked. All I did was take care of the house and our sons. Well, it was a job. I needed some respite. I would get exhausted and frustrated and I know it showed in my demeanor with my sons. I finally had a talk with my husband and we were able to work out a more fair system. Why did I wait so long? I think care givers have low self-esteem because society doesn’t value us. Let’s face it, society doesn’t value the infirmed, chronically ill or weak. We have to value them and it begins with valuing ourselves. When I started to be more kind and forgiving to myself, I was able to appreciate the beautiful souls I was entrusted with.

Lastly, remember that you are a facilitator of care. The disability or chronic condition of the person you care for is their personal journey. You are simply there to help them on their journey. No judgement. No unrealistic expectations. When I felt judged by the people at that church I couldn’t fully accept my sons for who they are. I remember running into a woman or two from church at a restaurant or shopping. They’d yell out questions to me like, “Is your son healed yet?” Or, “How’s your son doing?” I remember answering, “He’s doing fine!” Then she retorted, “I mean mentally.” What right did the people at this church have to judge me or special, beautiful sons? NONE! My sons were born with anomalies that only God knows the reason for.

The precious people we’re entrusted with have no say in their condition. Their family has no control on their function. They just need to be treated with respect. We just need to be there for them and take pride in our service to them. When frustration seems too great, take a break. When the person your caring for is at the end of their emotional rope, change the mood. Put on some uplifting music. Remind them of something they enjoy to partake in. Take them outside. Look at pictures. Put on a favorite movie. Be the person you’d want someone else to be to you in their position. Just be kind.

Click here to return to the contest home page and read more winners’ advice.

Winners were selected by a panel of independent judges, including: Sandra Mitchell, Award-winning KCAL 9 news anchor and breast cancer survivor, and the Landers family: actor and comedian David Landers (“Laverne & Shirley”) who is living with MS, his wife Kathy and his daughter Natalie (“The Middle”). Click here to learn more.

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