Chris Wilkinson column: An ode to my caregiver

You help keep me safe. You help keep me strong.

By Chris Wilkinson

How many hats can you wear?

Homemaker at home. Homemaker at work. Parent at home. Surrogate daughter at work. You give at home. You give at work. How much more can you give?

You are a friend. A companion. Sometimes you become like family. You help with my house. You help with my care. You help in the noblest, most important ways.

You help keep me safe. You help keep me strong. You help keep me healthy. You help keep me home.

You are part paramedic. Part nurse. Part pharmacist. Part chef. Part psychologist. Part executive assistant. Part friend. Part family. Part trusted confidante.

You are underpaid. You are under respected. You deal with my stuff. Then you go home and deal with your own. Back home there are kids, who fend for themselves. Who have to learn to grow up faster.

You work many hours. You work all day long. You may even work all night with no sleep. Your hours are strange. Not always a consistent schedule. How do you do what you do for so long?

I think, with your multi-talented ways, that you must have been trained by the greatest of instructors. Yet it’s not your caregiving skills that impress me most. It’s the hundreds of ways that you know how to care. It’s in the way you make my tea just how I like it. The way you play my favourite music that makes me want to dance and sing. It’s the warm bowl of soup with the right kind of cracker. It’s the reminder to take my pills the doctor has given me to keep me well. It’s the nicely made bed that welcomes me back at night.

It’s caring for my husband who has dementia. It’s helping him remember where he is so he’s calm. It’s assisting him to eat when he forgets that he’s hungry. It’s steering him calmly when his mind wants to storm.

And at the end of the day, when your work is all done, you soldier home to do it all again with your own. Your family who needs you to keep up at home. The kids who remind you where they need to be driven. Your home that simply doesn’t allow you to rest.

How do you do it — keep all of this up? When caring for others often requires you to neglect caring for yourself. How do you care for others so deep. Or sometimes is the care all gone and you weep?

I see someone who could use some more care. I see someone who, for others, gives so much of her share. Please take this day to yourself if you dare. Care-give to yourself this one day and repair. Take a deep breath and gather your air. For tomorrow, I’ll still be here, and you could help with my hair. Perhaps, for today, one of your hats I could wear.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

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