The Price and Rewards of Caring

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Recently, Newsweek published an article that featured Rob Lowe and centered on his role as a family caregiver. It’s an excellent article and Lowe talks about the stress, the emotional toll and the rewards of being there for his mother while she endured stage 4 breast cancer.

It’s estimated that over 43 million Americans are filling the role of a family caregiver. There are sacrifices made on a daily basis. Often the caregivers work suffers, so there are financial setbacks. The physical work it takes and the stress that comes from caregiving can be very detrimental to anyone’s health and family caregivers often experience their own serious ailments.

It’s not just the day to day help in the home that caregivers extend to their loved ones. It’s the phone calls and doctor’s visits and the health insurance paperwork. Lowe was very fortunate to have two brothers that helped him while his mother was sick. He could lean on them and they could take the load when he could not.

The positive side of caregiving was also talked about. Lowe said he had no regrets when his mother passed. He had spent the time being there for her and they talked about important family matters. He felt his role as caregiver was perhaps the most meaningful thing he had done in his life.

Don’t Do It All Yourself

Lowe’s father was diagnosed with cancer while Rob was in his late 30’s. His stepmother was his father’s caregiver and after he beat cancer, they divorced. Lowe said he believed the emotional toll and physical contribution his stepmother made was just too much. So often the main caregiver feels like they have to do it all by themselves. It is just too much! You have to have help. Reach out to family, friends and neighbors. Let them know your needs. Even small acts of kindness during your role as caregiver can be invaluable.

My mama is the one taking care of my dad but I do my best to help however I can. Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or I take over a hot meal, they appreciate it so much. Mama needs to be able to talk about her struggles and I want to be there for her, as well as my daddy. I’m usually the one that takes him to the doctor or the urgent care. Mama’s not all that comfortable driving any more.

If you are a caregiver, don’t hesitate to ask for help. This is no time to be a martyr. Everyone who helps with your parents or loved one bring a lot of happiness with them. You’ll need to get away at times. Be sure to eat well, sleep well and take walks every day. What you do is so important. Take good care of yourself so you can be there through these difficult times.

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