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Posted: November 12, 2007

Practical Caregiving

At Thanksgiving, Make a Point of Finding Happiness

In the United States and Canada, Thanksgiving is a time when we are reminded to be grateful for living where we do and for everything we have. The typical Thanksgiving Day will start out with someone putting a turkey in the oven in the early morning hours. Later in the day, the rest of our family comes with various dishes to go with the turkey. It’s a day of happiness and laughter. All cares and frustrations are forgotten for that one day. It sounds wonderful.

It’s too bad we can’t put away our cares and frustrations that easily. As a family caregiver, we can’t do that, even on Thanksgiving Day. Our loved one isn’t going to get better. We have to live with that fact every minute of every day. On top of that, we are still responsible for our loved one’s care. We can’t get away from it, and when it comes down to it, we wouldn’t want to. We love them too much to leave them alone on any holiday.

I want everyone reading this to find at least two things to be thankful for. They don’t need to be huge things. They can be little things, like being overweight. That’s right OVERweight. Did you know people in other countries are so skinny and weak they may die? When you think of it that way, you can see how you can be thankful for being overweight. Next, when you are down, think of those two things and rejoice that you have them to be thankful for.

If you don’t do something to make your Thanksgiving Day a good day amidst your caregiving, it can be horrible. You can sit and feel sorry for yourself. You can tell yourself that you are in this awful situation and that it looks like the rest of your family is having that carefree time you want so badly.

You can get angry with your loved one, but you know your loved one doesn’t have a choice about needing someone to take care of him/her. You can become jealous because your brothers and sisters, your kids, your friends look like they are having a good time, but it won’t change anything. You are a family caregiver. You’re taking care of your loved one because you love him/her, not because they’re sick.

It’s so easy to get upset because you aren’t doing what you want to do. You and I both know you don’t want to be taking care of your loved one. You want them to be healthy and living a normal life, not needing your care. But, we can’t live in a fantasy world. It’s essential that you live in the real world, a world where people get sick and need help. But, don’t look at the bad things you have to face. Look at the good things that come out of your situation. You are learning so much. You are growing so much. You will be able to talk to someone else in a situation similar to yours and help them. You will always know that you did everything you could to help your loved one when he/she needed it so much. I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. But, it’s worth it.

No matter what people are doing caregiving, or not -- they all have difficult issues to face. The super rich have problems, even though they have more money than they’ll ever need. A beautiful person has problems, even though she isn’t unattractive. An ordinary person walking down the street -- not taking care of their loved one -- has problems, just different ones than you have.

Absolutely everyone has problems they must face. No one’s life is without problems. We all need to face life as it is, not as we would like it to be. That’s why it’s so important for you to look for the good things in your life, and the good things that come out of what you are doing.

If you feel sorry for yourself, you will be depressed. You can become used to feeling depressed, but why would you want to do that? Get used to feeling good about yourself and what you are doing instead. Interestingly, you can get used to that feeling, also, and you will enjoy life so much more.

When I was taking care of my parents, I made a conscious decision to find the good in what I was doing, and everything seemed much better. Sure, there were times I was bored and times when I was down, but I could always find something to be thankful for, and that made the difference. I don’t know how I learned to do that, but it made such a big difference. I want you to enjoy what you are doing as much as possible, and you can do that by finding things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for all of you, and this Thanksgiving I will say a prayer for each and every one of you. I hope your Thanksgiving will be a good day for you and your loved one, and every day after that will be as good as it can be too.

© 2007 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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