‘Why Do We Always Hurt the Ones We Love’ is a song, but unlike a country song when played backward, does not reverse out of those moments when we’ve said something we regret. Pain is a drain. When we feel pain, we feel a drain on our emotions, causing us to lash out. Firing spontaneous expletives in an explosive expression communicates our primal fear and frustration.
Communication is key –’The Caregiver’s Bill of Rights’ outlines eight important steps we can all apply to any nurturing relationship. A retired Oncological Nurse recommends learning to develop what she refers to as “Healthy Boundaries”. She also served as the primary caregiver for her husband of many years. This form of self-preservation is essential. ‘The Alzheimer’s Reading Room’ article “Tea and Empathy” suggests delegating and listening. Recognize the signs and symptoms and delegate among family, neighbors and friends. Most importantly, take care of yourself. In a flight emergency we are instructed to put on our own oxygen mask first. No one can begin to meet the needs of others until their own basic needs have been met.
Several of these links are directed to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, but caregiving is often treated as a perfunctory responsibility pertinent to any relationship, regardless of medical need. It’s alright to ask for help, in fact, it’s encouraged! Learn to take GOOD care and say you’re sorry when necessary. I’m sorry, Mom, and I accept your apology, too.