Finding enrichment and a new sense of purpose when your identity has become that of “caregiver”
MOVING FORWARD WITH A NEW APPROACH
This is our last and final post in our caregiving blog mini series...
How to move forward and find fulfillment in life
Is it possible to still be a daughter, be a wife, to someone who has become so dependent on us? How can we turn this seemingly burdensome life and these feelings of resentment and guilt into a fulfilled, enriched alternative, appreciating our new normal?
I have seen a lot of great online resources targeting caregivers, providing suggestions for what they can do to help with “caregiver burden.” Often, these suggestions sound great, in reality, but may be difficult to implement depending on the resources available to you. So I’ve instead put together a list of motivators and encouragement that I feel each and every person living with Aphasia (whether you are the one directly or indirectly impacted by the language disorder) can follow and believe in, to hopefully help you put one foot in front of the other on that recovery road...
Never give up on the road to recovery, and accept that it can be slow, and there will be bumps along the way.
Tiny victories are victories and they should be celebrated. A new word, a new sound, a new gesture…these should all be celebrated!
Accept the bad days, because there will be bad days. Allow yourself to cry, scream, hide in the closet for 2 minutes alone with a candy bar…knowing you will wake up tomorrow with a fresh start…a new day. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty for how you feel. What you are feeling is NORMAL.
Experience life, live life, as this becomes a big part of your therapy, however you may define it and experience it!
Accept your new purpose, your new course, and learn to adapt. Acceptance allows you to move forward whereas denial can hold you back from who and what you can truly become.
Find the humor in things…laughing is truly the best medicine! When your loved one’s favorite words have become profanity or your dad called you by your mom’s name, it’s ok to laugh it off and even poke fun a bit!
Allow for creativity and flexibility in recovery – everyone with Aphasia is different. It is unfair to compare your situation or your recovery process with others. Everyone responds to different people, different situations, differently. Build off strengths and find new approaches for weaknesses.
My hope is that through this blog series, as a caregiver, you have perhaps found a small amount of comfort in at least knowing that what you’re feeling is normal, and it is ok. Maybe this series allowed you to discover a new perspective or a new outlook on your life, living and caring for a person with Aphasia.
And my hope for those Speech Language Pathologists that have read this series is that you may now approach your caregivers a little bit differently, and put a little extra thought in how you educate and support them, in addition to what you’re already doing to help their loved one with Aphasia. I hope I have motivated you to REconsider the needs of our caregivers, ALL caregivers of the patients we see, so we can better serve our patients and their families and make a more positive impact on their quality of life and overall recovery.
*****I want to thank the women, the amazingly strong caregivers, who contributed their stories and feelings, and allowed me to share them in this article. What you do each and every day, along with all the other caregivers out there, is truly admirable. Your loved ones would not be where they are in their recovery if it weren’t for you. Thanks for what you all do!*****
Howe, T., Davidson, B., Worrall, L., Hersh, D., Ferguson, A., Sherratt, S., & Gilbert, J. (2012). ‘You needed to rehab … families as well’: family members’ own goals for aphasia rehabilitation. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders.