Recently I lost a patient that I had the honor to work with for the past seventeen years. Although it was certainly her time to leave this earth, my heart aches for the vacuum she left. Before she was laid to rest, I bought a jar of Ponds Cold Cream so I could use it and remember how she smelled.
In honor of our dear Miss Mary and her devoted caregivers, I’m including an excerpt from my book, Age Your Way. It’s part of the chapter on caregivers since they are truly the angels who made all the difference to her years and her quality of life.
Caregivers, I love you dearly because you are the change-makers. In your capable hands, what was horrible can become wonderful. This is true whether you’re an employed aide or a family caregiver serving as the responsible party. Family, you stretch yourself into a net beneath your loved one, catching every stray concern, ensuring every possible step is taken to mitigate decline, advocate, and ensure security and comfort.
These family saints may not be donning gloves and changing diapers, but they are vital caregivers, indispensable. What I see so often is that a family caregiver travels a lonely path. A swarm of others may come and go, unloading an abundance of advice. But a single person usually bears the ultimate burden.
This is the one who falls asleep at night and wakes in the morning worrying, the person who can’t leave town without a huge lump in their throat, the one who jumps every time the phone rings. Eventually, their form of caregiving may evolve to obsession, because they are flying solo without ever having a day off. For them, the mantle of responsibility is not removable.
If you’re that special person, I bow to you. It has been a gift to work with so many remarkable family caregivers over the years.
Then there are the employed caregivers. Most who I have the pleasure to work with understand more about the patient than the closest family member could ever know. Over time, their heart beats in unison with the patient. They know when things are stable and they know when something’s wrong, even if they can’t pinpoint the exact problem. All I need is a call from a good caregiver to tell me “Sadie looks different today,” and I’m on my way. Their antenna is more accurate than the most sophisticated scanner. They simply know. Magnificent.”
If this excerpt speaks to you, you can purchase the book HERE.