The Caregiving Cornerstone is devoted to helping people who take care of other people. Some of us no longer physically care for another, but are still Carers in our own way.  There is no fee for subscribing to The Caregiving Cornerstone or for communication with me regarding your personal situation. TCC is a labor of love.  I no longer provide professional services, but help guide you as you seek the resources you need.

Below are three of the most common questions I’m asked regarding caregiving. The last question, to me, is the most important.  If we don’t take loving care of ourselves, who will be there to take care of those we love?  Self-care, when you get over feeling that you’re being selfish, is the beginning of your new peaceful, joyful life.  We can do this together.

Q: How do I make intelligent decisions about things I’ve never dealt with before; like investments, insurance and Wills/Trusts?

A: This is one area that’s really overwhelming for many caregivers.  These are each specialized fields and changes in one effects the other.  It’s important that the person making the decisions has a good understanding of the overall situation and ramifications of their actions.  You may need professional help, but managing the professionals will be your job.  They don’t always speak to each other.

If you would like to send me an email and describe your situation along with your question(s), I would be happy to see if I can help or give you guidance as to how to proceed.  We want to save you time and money. Mostly, I would like to help you have peace of mind.

Q: My siblings and I are discussing options for the care of our parents. How do we know we’re making the right choices?

A: You don’t, no one can see into the future.  The health and independence level of the elderly often changes rapidly. So knowing all options available for your parents current level of needed care is the start, bearing in mind that change may come before you expect it.  The financial situation, location and proximity to loved ones, assuming they want to participate, will be big factors.  Desires of the parents, agreement between siblings and your best guess at what will bring the most peace of mind for the longest time might be the goal to set at the beginning.

If you would like to tell me a few of the particulars, we can communicate by email and I’ll do my best to help you get started.  If you could tell me your parents current state of health, if they are living independently now, what you would like to see happen and is there agreement between siblings, this would be a good way to begin our discussion.

Q: I’m a caregiver to my spouse and sometimes I think my own health is deteriorating because of it.  I feel guilty thinking this way and don’t know if there is anything I can do about it.  What would you advise?

A: I do know this feeling. It’s true that our health, physical and mental, can suffer a bit when we’re spending most of our time taking care of someone else’s needs. We who take care of other people should pay close attention to our own health. Make sure you’re washing your hands often, especially when in a hospital or care facility (I carry hand lotion in my car and purse because of the dryness this causes). Take extra precaution to protect yourself. Make sure to keep all your routine appointments with your doctors. I, also, see holistic or integrative medicine doctors. I’ve discovered that routine blood tests can reveal opportunities to ensure optimum health.

Of course, you should eat properly and get exercise. Persons over 60 years of age should check with their doctors to make sure they’re getting enough protein in their diets to keep their strength up. Drinks high in protein are good for us as well as those we are caring for. Lots of water is extremely important to keep our kidneys healthy. I buy spring water in bottles because for some strange reason I drink more water if I can pick up a bottle. I used to power walk for ten minutes and come back into the house to check on my husband, then go back out for another 10 minutes and then another. That way I got 3 miles in a day, several days a week. You have to be creative!

It’s very important to take an interest in something outside of your routine. Something that is just yours. I remember, toward the end of my husbands life, when I was feeling like I had no life outside of making sure he was well cared for (24/7), all the family was informed, and I was keeping the house running as best I could, it occurred to me that I could get on the Internet and start dreaming. I could start thinking about what I would do if my situation were different. It seems selfish, but I want to get that out of your mind. Your life is no less important than anyone else’s. And whatever you can create that allows you to feel a little joy helps you be the best caregiver you can be. As long as no one else is hurt, start dreaming!

I walked the streets of towns in Italy where my father was from on Google earth. I started adding things to the grocery list that I could prepare myself for dinner, instead of just eating whatever was easy. And I promised myself that no matter what time I had gone to sleep last night (sometimes not at all, as you’ll read in my blog posts, see; Sleep Deprivation) I was going to get my 30 minutes of yoga stretches in. I didn’t do it all at once, but once the idea of doing something fun for myself got started, I was determined that this was what I needed to stay sane. By the way, a few years later, I walked the real streets in Italy and visited my family that still live in the house where my father was born. Thought become things! So dream, you’ve earned it!

I suggest reading my oldest blog posts, too. I wish you happy dreams!