A new outlook on caregiving


I was going to write about the real estate website Redfin’s new home valuation feature this week, but that can wait.

Instead, I am going to tell you about something that has consumed my home life for the past six weeks, and given me a taste of what countless Herald-Tribune readers face on a daily basis, and for a lot longer than six weeks.

That thing is caregiving.

On Oct. 28, my wife was injured in a car crash. The car didn’t look that bad, but she suffered a serious injury that put her in the hospital for two weeks. The four weeks since then mostly in bed at home.

As the days have gone by, she has improved to the point where she can spend more time out of bed, but those occasions typically are followed by a retreat under the blanket.

My role has been to help her into and out of bed, guide her up and down steps, do anything that requires twisting, lifting or bending, monitor her medication use, and, of course, cook, clean and run errands. My most important task, and the thing I worry about the most, is preventing a fall that could cause reinjury.

None of these tasks is rocket science, but taken as a whole, they can be daunting, or at least tiring, even with a nurse coming in a few times a week to manage her health care and do things like give injections and take blood.

This has given me a new perspective on the role caregivers play, and new admiration for my own relatives who handle that role, despite a higher degree of difficulty than I have.

Fortunately for me, in a few more weeks she should be fully healed and my caregiver job will be over. I hope.

But for many of you, no such break is on the horizon. I wondered how you do it, and found the answers at a website called HelpGuide.org.

At that site, I learned that it is important to know your limits and encourage your loved one’s independence.

“Be realistic about how much of your time and yourself you can give,” the site advises. “Set clear limits, and communicate those limits to doctors, family members and other people involved.

“Caregiving does not mean doing everything for your loved one. Be open to technologies and strategies that allow your family member to be as independent as possible.”

And my wife does like her independence. Her favorite activity is going to the street market. She loves looking at the items for sale and chatting with the vendors. All I see are curbs and hard pavement and lots of people putting her at risk.

This worry is part of the caregiving process, I learned. A main worry: “What will happen to the loved one if something happens to me?” And, “What if the illness progresses?” Or reinjury occurs?

“You might be angry at the world, in general.” I will admit to some guilt there.

Guilt, in fact, is common among caregivers. “You may feel guilty for not doing more, being a ‘better’ caregiver, having more patience, (or) accepting your situation with more equanimity,” HelpGuide. org suggests.

“Even if you’re the primary family caregiver, you can’t do everything on your own. ... If you don’t get the support you need, you’ll quickly burn out, which will compromise your ability to provide care.”

This information and much more is available here.

If you are a caregiver, keep doing the good stuff — and don’t forget to take care of yourself.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: December 11, 2015
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