are you a care giver or a care taker?

are you a care giver or a care taker?

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Jan 29, 2014 5:14 pm

Ever since I was a little boy, a lot of things confused me. I never understood, for example, why people who ordered fish worried about the fish being too fishy. That confuses me. If you didn't want something fishy, order chicken!

Anyway, ever notice that caregivers are also called caretakers? The words theoretically mean the opposite but in every day parlance they mean the same. So those nurses and family members who do this kind of work-are they giving away something or are they taking something? It's all very confusing. Nevertheless, I never let confusion interfere with my having an opinion!

Ask anyone who does this kind of work and they will tell you that some days they feel they are giving away energy and options. They are giving away precious time and their lives feel imbalanced. And yet other days they might feel they are receiving much more than they give.

So what's the difference? Of course there are many factors. The first place I like to look is into the eyes and hearts of the caregiver/taker.
I interviewed a physician many years ago who referred to medicine as "the most spiritually malnourished profession in the world". I thought of that very powerful language and I am mindful of when one's soul is being nourished or malnourished.

Knowing many family caregivers don't have a lot of options, there are ways of caring for ourselves that don't involve a traumatic lifestyle change. But first we must be conscious of when our hearts are closed. You see, when our hearts are closed we suffer and most of the time we don't even know it. So what can we do when we realize that? Well, if I brought in this space that I was feeling exhausted, helpless and overwhelmed with my life, what would your emotional reaction be? Most likely, you would feel kind and compassionate. Most of you would want to hug me if you saw me in person knowing I was suffering.

Could you imagine doing that for yourself? Just take a minute and close your eyes and feel your heart and your chest. Feel if it's tight and feel if that part of your body and even the rest of your body is suffering right now. Put your warm loving hand on your heart and just feel that warmth and care and let it penetrate. Hold your heart with the same kindness you would hold a loved one with.

This tiny exercise doesn't require much, just a small act of kindness for a nice person who does everything they can to help someone else.

And there are dozens of other reasons why caregiving becomes a burden including what's happening with the person who's receiving care and the nature of that relationship, the amount of external support caregivers get, and social and financial resources. And many many more.

So what can we do? I'd love to hear from you about that.

RE: are you a care giver or a care taker?

Posted by LIVEBLISS on Feb 4, 2014 5:41 pm

In recent years the term caretaker has become just that, I must concern myself with everything that is important to the person giving care, often at risk to my finances, home and yes heath.  Scheduling has always been an issue, so that does not count as their health does count.  I have become payer of all bills, meter of all demands, counselor, travel agent, advisor, tutor, and many other things that seem not to earn me work outs, trips to the bathroom or even thank you.  The more I have given the more they take, yet to survive I keep giving and one caregiver passes on tips to another to make their life easier.  The downward spiral began when my ex-husband walked out without notice and being afraid of no-care or a nursing home I was thankful for any care.  Going to the bathroom from a hoyer lift or diapers instead of trips to the bathroom which provided much needed activity and dignity as an example. I cared for my mother and grandmother for years, while working, while raising children I hope they never felt like the burden I have been made to feel.  I  went to the state for help however they wanted to claim all my assets and put me in a nursing home.  Two neurologists say I can walk again, I walk small, short amounts in a pool, yet my insurance and the state would prefer to warehouse me.  I ant to live, pay taxes, help others but it seems too much trouble.  I would be called non-compliant in a nursing home as I will not take drugs to make me a vegetable.  After working in marketing for long term care I know I do not fit the criteria, however after they kick me out, I will have no money and no where to go.  I went to get treatment in an program, self-pay, and my caregivers could not help me do the at home program.  I have now moved into my son's girlfriends home, where nothing is ADA, I will need to go out to have a shower but at least I have some form of love.  The bad part is he is taking caregiving suggestions from his father, "do as little as possible and get as much as possible" ( caretakers professional and otherwise seem to have the same mantra).  So many of us require help to get back on our feet that I suppose the law of averages just says people take more than they are prepared to give and do not know the true cost to the disabled.  As I write this I am formulating the talk I will have with my family, I need to bear weight, walk in water and shower whenever possible, goals to set.  My life depends on it.  Yes people have taken me for care yet I am hopeful that I will find a way to find a caregiver, mold a caregiver.  A lady on the paratransit bus said she volunteers at a shelter and also gets her care givers from there.  They are so happy to get out of the shelter that they give her excellent care. I no longer have a home to invite someone to stay with me, I have storage no one want to help me sort, caretaker is the correct term

RE: are you a care giver or a care taker?

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Feb 12, 2014 1:54 pm

I wish I could say your story is unique. Sadly, I can't. Many spouses walk out. Your husband did, my wife did and thousands and thousands of others. I'd like to say that the fact that you are in dire straits economically is unusual. That is more common than not these days for those of us with disabilities. States are broke, insurance companies are self-serving and inhumane and it seems almost everyone is stressed these days.
So simple acts of kindness and compassion are more precious.

Certainly the external reality of your life is what it is and how to make changes is way beyond my tiny skill set. But the other thing I read in your post are emotions that cause you great dis--ease. It sounds like you are angry/scared/resentful/scared and maybe a little more scared.

Of course you come by these emotions honestly and almost anybody in your situation would have those emotions. But whether they are "legitimate" or not, I wish for you what you wish for you – more ease in your life.
And, like the rest of us, ease is not a state of being, it's an experience we have that comes and goes.

Barbara, I don't know of anything that can make these painful emotions go away. But there are ways that you can feel these emotions and let them go. These emotions don't have to be the driving force of your life.

You said that "at least I have some form of love." That speaks volumes about who you are, what you long for and what your son and his girlfriend are capable of. Love. My suggestion is that you work on love. Try to love your son even more than you do already. Try to notice how his eyes look when he's tired or how he holds his shoulders when he is stressed. Notice the corners of his mouth when he is happy. And try to do the same with his girlfriend. Work on love dear Barbara. Love them better and then you will have much more love in your life.

Your situation won't change. Frankly, it sounds awful. And your anxiety may not ever go away. But having more love in your life certainly improves the quality of one's life. So I wish you great love.

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