Caregiving taught me resilience. Here are some well documented tips and how I used them while caring for David.
What is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to adapt when faced with difficulty, trauma, or tragedy. Resilience is not a trait or characteristic that you either have or don’t have. It is a learned ability, one that can be learned and built and developed by anyone.
The word “resilient” might bring to mind all of the struggles that have plagued you in your life. You may be thinking “I’m not resilient at all. Someone who feels no distress when difficulty arises is not displaying resilience. A person who fails miserably, feels intense negative emotions, and survives to try another day is displaying resilience.
Building Blocks for Resilience
How can caregivers build resilience? There are 10 commonly known ways you can build resilience to help them keep going. I have shared how I applied them to my caregiving.
Find the positive in your experience and focus on it- remember hope is not about time- hope is about finding meaning and accomplishing what you want to accomplish. As hard as it is, there are meaningful moments, cherish them.
Face your Fears
When you face your fears they become less frightening. Do not run away from them or deny what you fear most. I knew the symptoms I feared most and so I prepared myself by learning as much as I could about them.
Have a moral compass
A moral compass is an internal set of values that help you make decisions. Talk with your loved one and find out what they hold dear. Together develop a compass for future decisions. For instance, David was clear, he wanted pain control over alertness. He wanted quality of life over time. These things helped me make decisions for him.
This is not about religion, but about believing in something bigger than yourself. What brings you peace and meaning? For me this was the outdoors. We sought peace in the oceans and mountains for as long as we could, one reason why we choose not to spend so much time in clinics.
It takes a village to get through caregiving. Let others help, accept their offers of help. Reach out and stay connected.
Find Resilient role models
Think about the people you look up to and examine how they do things. Take pride in relationships with those people. I remembered the strong caregivers I had walked the journey with before. I would think about the strong women in my life who believed in me. Knowing others could do it helped me believe I could.
Maintain Physical Fitness
As much as possible try to take care ofyour body. Your loved one needs you at your best. My dog forced me to have to walk him, even when I was afraid to leave David. This was often my only fresh air, my only exercise. It gave me room to breathe.
Keep your brain strong
This means keep exercising your brain as well. Read, write, work puzzles. Using your brain will keep you fresh when you have much to remember. Writing and sewing were my outlets.
Be Flexible in your thinking
Things are changing constantly and you must be willing to adjust your thinking to accomadate them. Dont fight change by resisting, fight it by embracing it and finding ways to deal with it.
Have a Mission
Have a mission in life that gives meaning to what you are doing. David and I decided to share our journey and teach others about what we are experiencing. If forced us to look at ourselves and try to create positive out of pain. Our mission gave meaning to what we were feeling.
A lifetime task
Building resilience is a lifetime job. It comes from hardship, trial and error and practice. Another perspective on this to help you think about it can be found at this caregiving site. Not only does caregiving require resilience, so does bereavement! I hope some of these tips are helpful!