Guest Post: “Don’t Lose Yourself” by Theresa Snyder
I have the pleasure of relaunching our new site & presenting a wonderful post from Theresa Snyder. Theresa is a multi-genre published writer with an internationally read blog. She is a voracious reader and her character driven writing is influenced by the early works of Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard. She loves to travel, but makes her home in Oregon where her elder father and she share a home and the maintenance of the resident cat, wild birds, squirrels, garden, and occasional Dragon house guest. Theresa’s books can be purchased by clicking here.
Thank you Theresa for sharing your journey. This is the perfect way to rebrand! Please enjoy this post, and share her in her quest to never lose yourself while caregiving!
What kind of advice would I give a new caregiver having been a caregiver myself for the past eighteen years?
I moved my elder parents in with me in 1996. I thought they would use our shared home as a stop off place between their ‘retirement trips’ in their motor home. That was not the case. Mother’s already poor health declined and my father suffered a heart attack which forced him into triple-bypass surgery. Mother passed in April of 2011. I still have my eighty-eight year old father living with me. Life often does not work out as we plan, no matter how well we think we have it carefully arranged.
But, I was talking about sage advice, words of wisdom I might impart on the new caregiver. I can sum it up in four words, three if I use a contraction … Don’t Lose Yourself. Most caregivers take on the responsibility of another human being because they have a tendency to be giving and caring people to begin with. They are of the ‘Giver’ clan of humanity, rather than the ‘Taker’ clan. That being said, it is so easy to lose yourself in the process of caring for someone.
My mother and father never said, ‘don’t do such and such,’ or ‘stay home, we need you.’ I did that to myself at first. They were my responsibility. I didn’t want anything to happen to them on my watch. So, I gave excuses to friends who wanted to see me out and about. I gave up doing things that took me too far away. I put my dreams on hold to care for them. But, I am here to tell you that doesn’t have to be the case. You can pursue your own dreams and in the process share with them, making both of your lives much richer in your roles as caregiver and elder.
My journey started when co-workers, knowing I had moved my elder parents in with me, started to ask my advice on issues regarding their aging parents. I saw a need. There are many of us, over 62% of the population, who are baby boomers. A lion’s share of those will inherit the care of someone who is close to them.
I have always been a writer in my spare time. Before 1996 I had never been published. I wrote books. I kept a journal. I wrote letters in longhand cursive and never missed sending a birthday or thank you card. I decided to approach our local newspaper about doing a human interest column about a baby boomer (me) inheriting their parents (mom and dad). The editors liked the idea and I was off on my personal journey to follow my dream of being a published writer.
Writing moments were snatched whenever they arose. Mom and Dad looked forward to reading the latest about their antics and our adventures in caregiving. In 2007 mother went on hospice and I worried that she would never see the book I was compiling put into print, so I self-published a volume of the articles entitled We 3. Mom and Dad enjoyed giving those away that Christmas. We were lucky, Mother flourished for a time and would have celebrated her third year on hospice two days after she died. I’m pleased she had the joy of seeing a book dedicated to her and my father.
I managed to find and pursue my passions in the depths of caregiving. I have attained my dream and continue to work toward fulfilling it further. Whatever your passion is … Whatever makes your heart sing … Whether it is gardening, reading, drawing, going to the movies, running the latest 10K marathon … whatever. Don’t put it on the back burner. Don’t give it up completely because you don’t think you have time. You need that passion fueling you to keep your sanity as you weave your way through the maze of caregiving.
We 3 is now available on Amazon in eBook and paperback. It, and my thirteen other published books, are a testament to what can be accomplished as a caregiver and still provide the care your charges need to make them flourish.
There is a life for you as a caregiver. Don’t lose it!