Caregiving for a Loved One

Caregiving for a loved one is an occupation that changes with the times. As seniors are living longer with better health care and lifestyles, many of us who are almost (or are) seniors ourselves are more and more becoming caregivers for parents, spouses, and others. The growth in the senior population means that the need for professional caregivers is growing, too. Not everyone can be cared for by a spouse or other relative.

I lost my husband and my mother only six months apart when I was age 60. Mother lived away and I was only with her a short time, but I cared for my husband through several years of illness, including six months on hospice care. Surprising to me, my husband and I became closer during that time than ever in our marriage.

We laughed about the frustrations of aging and losing capabilities; we talked about old times and laughed some more. We played games, or just watched TV and quietly enjoyed the time we had together. We knew what was coming but didn’t deny it. Instead of dreading the end, we embraced and celebrated each day we had, treating it as a gift.

This isn’t always easy to do, and encouragement is a key component of a caregiver’s role. Hospice staff members were remarkably helpful in answering questions about how to deal with changing health issues. It was a form of grief counseling prior to my husband’s death, which helped us both accept what was coming. They encouraged me so I could in turn be encouraging to my husband.

Learn more about guest blogger and senior writer Gloria VanDemmeltraadt

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