PASSAGES IN CAREGIVING,Turning Chaos into Confidence, by Gail Sheehy

I never thought about becoming a caregiver. Most people probably don’t. It just happens. I told mom that I wouldn’t want to do this for anyone else.

In any case, when I realized what my new role was, I called upon Gail Sheehy to explain the ins and outs of the caregiving passage. Hers is my new favorite book, and it’s helping me to understand the game, put some of the challenges in perspective, and most important of all, realize that the caregiver needs to take care of HERSELF as well.

An important way to do that is to cultivate your social network:
-“Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.” (from a study by Rebecca Adams of the University of North Carolina).
-“The best antidote to preserve the brain is an extensive social network.”
-“It’s how many people one knows intimately and feels comfortable confiding in.” (Dr. David Bennett)

I’m getting a great deal of support from my two sisters, one who is here nearby, and the other who is in North Carolina. I confide in both of them almost daily by phone, and they understand the stresses and the joys of the job. They’ve both spent a lot more time living with Mom than I have.

But, I realize that although it’s been 5 weeks since I arrived here in Clearwater to live with my mother, I haven’t reached out yet to any of my friends from my previous life in Belgium, or Korea. I NEED to get started cultivating those relationships again, so I made a list today of the women I feel comfortable confiding in. I know making a little effort to write to them will bring me a lot of returns. First, I won’t have to open my email and see nothing there. That’s always so discouraging 😦

I’d like to write more about what I’m learning here, but I’ll have to save that for the next time. It’s way too late, and getting enough sleep is a high priority on a caregiver’s list of self-care. If you’re reading this and you’re a caregiver in need of support, check out this book. It’s full of ideas, and resources, and stories from people who have been there, and survived.

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