UP FOR DISCUSSION … How Do Caregivers Plan Beyond the Moment?

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I have been talking to a lot of caregivers this week about various topics, but I am taken by a common thread that worked its way into many of these conversations.  Here are a few direct quotes:

“lots going on this week”

“my life has been more complicated than I anticipated”

“I want to be home helping … until I can’t”

“I am a one-woman band”

“everything I do is on (loved one’s first name) time”

Probably none of these folks felt overwhelmed at the time they shared those comments, but I could relate to every one of them.  And I know I have been totally overwhelmed by my own circumstances at times.  Too much to do, not enough time in the day, and new situations popping up that have never been experienced before – calendars and task lists become unwieldy, exhausting, and well, overwhelming!  Something has to give!  Not everything gets done, and choices need to be made.  Suddenly, today – or even the task at hand – is the only one that matters.

I think for many caregivers there needs to be a shift from planning ahead … weeks, months, years out … to living in the moment with maybe hope for what might be accomplished this day.  Scheduling an interesting class or a fun and relaxing activity just becomes one more thing to manage and try to get done.  The most critical needs are met first, and on many days the nice-to-haves not only fall to the bottom of the to-do list, but in some cases disappear entirely.  At some point, it is difficult to handle it any other way.

But there was one additional sentiment that I recognized and carried away from each of these exchanges this week – determination!  All of these caregivers were being realistic, honest, and dedicated to prioritizing what was most important in a way that would best allow them to support their loved one.  Everyone I talked with was living in the moment, reacting to the challenges currently at hand, and doing the very best they could in the circumstance.  They knew that adding even one thing to the mix at this point was not possible.  And as a fellow caregiver all I could do to help was to assure them that this community of caregivers will continue to pray for them.  We get it.  We see them.  They are not alone.  Sometimes, in the moment, there is nothing more to add.

Most things about caregiving are up for discussion. 

What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed?  What do you do when your hopeful plans for something just do not come together?  How do you prioritize when there are just too many demands?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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