Just like a battery, a caregiver can only last so long on a single charge. When the caregiver is not at full charge, the quality of the care will also be substandard. At some point, even the best caregiver on the planet will surrender. Consider the times that you have been at the edge of collapse. You want to throw your hands up in the air and give up. We’ve all been there. What do YOU do now? My advice is to re-charge that caregiving battery.
For as long as we must be caregivers, it is our responsibility to be faithful to the role. Whether we be paid professionals or unpaid family members, the caregiver must honor that role to the best of their ability.
My caregiver role is for my wonderful husband who has Muscular Dystrophy and his very sweet elderly father. It’s my responsibility to keep both of these men happy and healthy. I have embraced this role and I will own it for as long as necessary. We use a pager system in our home as a “call button”. My husband and his father both have a push button attached to a cord that they keep with them inside the house. I have the larger box that will ring if either one of them pushes their pager button. At some point, I began referring to the larger box that I carry as “The Mama”. When I am away from the living room, I announce, “I have The Mama” and we all know what that means. If either of these men need me for whatever reason, I will hear the bell and return in a matter of seconds.
So is it any wonder that I gave my call signal it’s nickname? There are many similarities between a great caregiver and a great mama looking out for her babies. There’s no mountain I won’t climb and there’s no river I won’t cross to protect them. I am “THE MAMA”. I am strong and powerful when fully charged. I am the distributor of all things that nourish. I want my “babies” to be healthy and happy. However, I am also very vulnerable and weak when I am tired and pushed to the edge.
So how do you know when your battery is weak? How do YOU identify this critical moment? If you don’t know, it’s your responsibility to find out when the “green light” on your spirit has changed to a “yellow light” and take action before it becomes a “red light”.
My laptop has a pop-up window when the battery is almost gone. That’s my warning to plug it in or the laptop will shut itself down. Likewise, you should be attentive to your body, mind, and spirt to find the help you need before that battery goes “red”. Caregiver burnout is real and it will shut your body down before you realize the danger.
Because we are all individuals in different caregiving roles, there is no universal answer about how you should re-charge. The individual caregiver must find the unique answer that works best. Some people love to read. Some people love yoga or exercise. Some caregivers are able to take long weekends away from home. Others find therapy in temporary escapes like doing crossword puzzles or word searches. You must find the hobby or distraction that works for your caregiving battery. Do not overlook the power of community, family, religion, or spirituality to connect with the supreme power in your life.
Self-care is essential to your own preservation. Your caregiving battery must be charged when needed just like any other battery before life shuts you down. People are depending on your power to be a magnificent caregiver. Be prepared with a plan to re-charge when needed and you will always be an awesome and empowered caregiver.