It’s been almost two years since my husband, who had dementia, passed away at his memory care facility. I had spent a few holidays in various care facilities for him over the years from geriatric psychiatric hospitals, state mental hospitals to memory care facilities.
During the various holiday seasons, my stress as a caregiver varied from high to low which corresponded to his immediate health care needs (the right care, the right medication, the right resources, etc.).
Not everyone is home for the holidays.
This Christmas I was reminded of the added stress caring for a loved one during the holidays. Thousands (perhaps millions across the globe) of family caregivers, their loved ones in health crisis, and professional caregivers are spending the holidays at hospitals and care facilities.
One of my family members had a stroke this week. Right now I’m spending my holidays in a hotel near a stroke rehabilitation facility (our loved one is doing remarkably well).
The past week has been a busy return to the “caregiver call to duty.”
Cancelling Christmas plans with local loved ones, quick transportation hours away, coordinating with nurses, doctors and therapists, staying in hotels – and giving the best comfort I can to my loved one has been all consuming.
We caregivers have caregiver muscles. It’s in our muscle memory. And mine was re-activated with this new family health crisis. Though having a stroke is different than having dementia – a brain injury has some similarities.
For all of you caregivers currently visiting and coordinating care for loved ones in hospitals, nursing homes, memory care units, rehab facilities, etc. I want to tell you that you are not alone.
There are many of us not sleeping in our own bed this week. I know many of you are tired, scared and feel alone. Please reach out for more support if you need it (friends, family, your church, local resources). And keep your faith during this time.
Fortify your strength by reading the passage from Matthew 23:35-40 below – caring for our loved one is caring for the most sacred.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25.35-40 ESV)
Love to all the caregivers this Christmas and always. You are loved and appreciated.
Wishing you Light on your Caregiver Path,