By: Kayli Spears, MFT-Intern
When was the last time you checked in on yourself? Being in the position of taking care of a loved one with an illness, dementia, and other memory-loss diseases, in particular, is a unique space accompanied by responsibility, loss, frustration, setbacks, and victories. The caretaker tends to their loved one hand and foot, but who is there to tend to them? An individual’s caretaker position allows them to walk alongside a loved one, receiving the privilege of peering through the darkest corners of their journey along with the cracks of light and progress that make its way through.
Shifts in the responsibility of a caretaker inevitably alter family dynamics as well, regardless of a person’s willingness to care for their ill family member or friend. In cognitive illnesses such as dementia, it is typically progressive, which forces the caretaker to be adaptable and willing to increase their level of care (Rolland, 1987, pp.4). With a change in family dynamics comes new obstacles to tend to, all while keeping your head above water. As a caretaker of a family member or friend, you likely wear many hats. Perhaps you are a mother, a father, a friend, a co-worker, a boss. Juggling the variety of roles and responsibilities needed of someone throughout the day and week can seem insurmountable, and recognizing that you are not alone in this space is essential. While attempting to keep “normal” life afloat, a caretaker is also mourning the ambiguous loss of the person they care for. Perhaps the family member or friend needing care is not the person they once were before their health took hold of them.
While much of a presenting illness cannot be altered, unpacking beliefs on what is going on and identifying the factors you can control can elevate life from simply surviving to live each day fully. God has designed us for community and connection, so utilizing the strengths within oneself and validating the plethora of emotions one is feeling can be empowering.
As the saying goes, it is hard to pour from an empty cup. Give yourself grace, and take time for yourself. If you or a loved one resonate with the contents of this blog, take a step towards effective healing today by scheduling an appointment with me, Kayli Spears, through our portal at dwatherapy.com, or call our office at 806-780-0003.
Be blessed and be a blessing,
Rolland, J. S. (1987). Chronic illness and the life cycle: A conceptual framework. Family Process, 26(2), 203–221.