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5 Things I Have Learned to Make the Caregiving Journey a Little Easier

Guest Post by Darcy Thiel Creator of The Resilient Caregiver’s Lifeline

Author Darcy Thiel

Here are five key things you need to have prepared and be educated about if you want your caregiving journey to be a beautiful and spiritual experience - instead of fighting relentless fires.

When we agree to be a caregiver, we have no idea what is coming. Our lives are turned completely upside down. Priorities must radically shift. We find ourselves having to choose between several important tasks and anxiously put some aside despite their importance. It is overwhelming!

The good news is, there are methods to greatly improve your efficiency, which in turn lessens stress. There are tools that you can grab that will get you better results as you try to get the results for your loved one.

And the result of both of things? You may get to breathe a little easier and grasp moments of your life back.

1. Create a care calendar.

Create a calendar to organize anyone who assists you. (By the way, do not EVER turn down an offer to help.) It really is easier to give than receive. There is a ton of spiritual and emotional growth to be had but learning the humility to receive. And those people that help then have the reward of giving and knowing that may have helped make your difficult life a little easier.

Others may not be able to do actual care, but they sure can provide meals, clean your house, transport your kids, do your shopping, and loads of other things. Then you focus your time and energy being the son, the daughter, the friend that your heart wants to be for your loved ones.

There are excellent websites available to organize this for you!

2. Get the best possible care for your loved one.

Learn a specific method to hold medical professionals accountable to giving you the best possible care. Most people are feeling their way around in the dark, or blindly accepting medical providers’ decisions without questioning them because that is what we have always done. This can lead to horrible malpractice and decisions that can shorten your loved ones’ life, or at the least cause unnecessary suffering.

I emphasize using a system of note taking and a series of pointed questions that makes sure the best care decisions are being made by your medical professionals as you hold them accountable. This can be achieved through medical journals and charts, and education on how to be an effective advocate to navigate the broken medical system.

3. De-clutter now.

Start de-cluttering now. This probably sounds like the LEAST important thing to do right now but trust me, it makes a huge difference. If there comes a time when your loved one needs to move, it’ll happen at a time that is more stressful than right now. A few minutes a day spent on this can save you a hugely stressful tornado should that day ever come. Otherwise, the task can immobilize/paralyze you. Besides, you will find that the clearer space will help to calm you emotionally and mentally.

4. Prepare for future legal and financial situations.

There are a bunch of legal and financial situations that are just around the corner for you that you have not even thought of yet. The more prepared for this you can be, the better off you will be. Imagine drowning in legal problems at the same time you are going to multiple medical appointments- or even grieving. Or trying to piece together financial information for your loved one when they are too sick to tell you or remember what is going on.

I emphasize creating a portfolio on these issues now or else you will spend 10x more hours on putting the difficult puzzle together later. Prepare legally and financially for things that probably have not even entered your mind. The more prepared you are, the better the outcome for everyone involved. (Except maybe the “professionals” that like to take advantage of uninformed consumers.)

5. End of life planning.

I know this one is hard, but you need to explore your loved one’s end of life wishes. Even if their medical condition is not dire, it is never too early to do this. Trust me, your person is thinking about it and would most likely welcome a chance to have a conversation with someone who isn’t afraid of it. There are many tips available to help facilitate this and make this delicate situation bearable. You can do it!

These are the things that I learned through trial and error as I was the caregiver for my mother, father, and husband. It has become my passion to assist others now, helping them to avoid some of the pitfalls I had to pull myself out of.

For those of you that have been doing caregiving for a while, what is one of the biggest things that you wish you would have known before you were in that situation? Feel free to share your stories and experiences. I would love to hear them.

This is a photo of my mom, dad, and husband. I was a caregiver for all of them, and they have all finished their journey here.

If you have any questions or comments about the thoughts I have posted, I welcome your feedback. I look forward with great anticipation to interacting with you!

About the Author: I am Darcy Thiel, and I am the creator of The Resilient Caregiver's Lifeline. If you found this blog post helpful, you will find my program to be invaluable.

I am also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY State and earned my master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. I have been a couple and family therapist in West Seneca, New York since the mid-1990’s and was formerly an adjunct professor at Medaille College in Buffalo, NY.

As a caregiver trainer/coach, an Adult Planning Specialist and as an End-of-Life Doula, I can take my training and life experiences with both my parents' and husband's illnesses and passing to help others navigate the crazy, complicated medical world in which we live.

This dovetails nicely with the books I have written about death/dying and grief/loss. Bitter and Sweet: A Family’s Journey with Cancer, the prequel to Life After Death, on This Side of Heaven are written from an honest and raw perspective on coping with the diagnosis and subsequent loss of Tim, my spouse.

I have also done extensive speaking on the above topics to various audiences through live audiences, radio shows, and even an occasional TV spot.

Let’s set up a brief chat to see if you would be a good fit!

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