UP FOR DISCUSSION … And as the football season wraps up, so begins Spring Training in the world of sports … it is time for baseball! I saw this interesting comparison about life today that made me realize family caregiving might just be a little like playing competitive baseball.

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Spring is here, and with the end of the football season, everything has become about baseball in our house.  My loved one’s primary entertainment and interests revolve around professional and college sports … not so much true when he was well, but certainly since the progression of his illness has rendered him essentially homebound.  I have long understood that is because he can still comprehend and follow these contests on television, and I only recently came to realize that he also does not have to be able to hear anything to engage in the game.  This is true of football, basketball, baseball … even hockey.  He has not taken an interest in watching golf or tennis on television, but I suspect that would be the same experience.  Suffice it to say, we live with a healthy dose of sports on a daily basis, and I wonder sometimes what quality of life would look like without it.

Those thoughts gave rise to how we have effectively used sports to improve on the daily challenges of our journey, so I took a look back in my journal that goes back to early 2019.  A quick search of “St. Louis Cardinals” brought up memories of baseball games past that we watched together … and I was surprised to discover that only about half of the time did the “big event” bring the desired results … a time of enjoyment and escape from the normal and ordinary.  But even a 50% success rate in baseball makes you a “great player”!

Spectator sports are full of the unexpected.  It is tough to predict outcomes, even when overall momentum for any team seems to be going their way.  Your favorite players have good and bad days.  While the basic rules of the game are the same year to year, it seems changes made by new faces on the team and in how the game is being played have to be accounted for and a “new normal” for watching the contest takes some time to get used to.  Injuries can significantly slow the ability for players to contribute to their success, and even the healthiest players are only expected to get a hit 3 out of every 10 tries!  But no matter the challenges faced throughout the year a true fan walks away with the hope that the next inning … or game … or season will be better.  And the professionals have to believe in themselves to continue in their chosen career.

This is true for caregivers, too, I believe.  Things do not usually go according to plan.  Health decline and injuries occur.  Rules change.  New faces and personalities come in and out.  One day things are playing out as expected and suddenly the next day brings a new normal that we need to adjust to.  And more times than not, we fail to achieve even a portion of what we had hoped in our quest to be great caregivers for our loved ones.  In any season of caregiving, we suffer far more losses than wins.  But like in baseball, I wonder whether our definition of “great” is accurate and if our “losses” are nothing more than a reminder for us to become more resilient and determined the next time.  For me caregiving is less about winning and losing and more about enjoying what we have.  Most caregivers are going to experience a lot of loss but can only make a difference while they are able to play in the game.  Every inning, every at-bat, every swing counts!

Yesterday was National Caregiver’s Day.  (We get a full month in November!)  I hope it is a great season for all of us!  Funny, how we set aside a day at the beginning of a new baseball season to also give a shout out to caregivers.  Batters up!




Up for Discussion:  What is your win/loss record as a caregiver?  Do you even bother to keep score, or are you more focused on today?  What constitutes a win?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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