Looking after a child with severe disabilities, then having another baby, then helping to look after an ageing Mum have all taught me some life lessons about surviving the caregiving experience.
Here are a few essential truths I have learned from experience:
- No one can give good care by themselves. A team is necessary.
- It's easier for everyone if there is some income available in order to do a combination of publicly and privately funded help. An absence of disposable income for private service providers of all sorts will simply mean more work for the carers (not impossible of course, but more tiring and the risk of early burn-out is greater).
- Household chores need to be considered in the big picture as well as professional must-do daily lists. Care for a loved one cannot be viewed in isolation and apart from other life responsibilities.
- Friends, family and professionals (ie the team) need to be coordinated and a system for efficient information sharing must be in place.
- One friendly person (I call this person 'the champion') in each agency involved in care must be identified.
These are some lessons learned that have bubbled to the top of my thoughts today after spending the last couple of days with my 90 year old Mum in a Montreal hospital where she is isolated due to the super-bug C-Difficil. She's a tough cookie and she'll recover, but good wishes and prayers (if readers are so inclined) will always be appreciated.