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Caregiving For The Baby Boomer Spouse

3 Ways To Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way.

No boomer lives in caregiver castle alone.

No boomer lives in caregiver castle alone.

Who can name the ‘Do Your Own Thing’ generation?

How about the ‘March To The Beat Of A Different Drummer’ generation?

Or the ‘If You Love Something Set It Free’ generation?

The ‘Me’ generation?

The one with ‘Radicals And Freaks?’

On a blog called boomerpdx it shouldn’t be too hard to find the answer.

Yet all the independent ideasĀ evaporate when one simple thing happens.

You get the dreaded phone call you’ve heard about from others.

A loved one (mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, or older sibling) has had a health event (heart attack, stroke, disease, accident.) Since they’re a loved one, you offer support the best way you know how short of pulling on a cape and flying to the rescue.

You visit more often, give gifts, tell others to visit more often. You create a network of concern. The feedback you get from your loved one is something like, “I don’t want to be a burden.”

You assure them they’re not a burden. Sound on track so far? Good. Now, what if it’s your husband or wife who needs caregiving?

Since you live together, visiting more often isn’t as meaningful. Gifts? Same thing.

What do you do, family caregiver?

Relationship lines are drawn in the sand, sometimes the air, but you know when you’ve stepped over one.

Stereotypes changed in the sixties and seventies. Open a door for your date and they might say, “I’ve got two hands, pal, I can handle opening a door.” Or, “Isn’t that nice? You don’t think I can open a door? What am I, your momma?”

Common courtesy became uncommon between the sexes. Helen Reddy did her part with the song I Am Woman.

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

If you are a woman married to a man’s man who is large and in charge, and their health status changes for the worse faster than you thought possible, you’ve got a delicate dance to learn.

Do too much and they’ll accuse you of babying them. Do too little and they’ll say you’re ignoring them.

Again, what do you do? Try this:

  • Start each day with a tune-up.

Give a little history of who you are together. Recall a special time and what it meant to you. If your partner ignores you, tunes you out, cut it short with, “I wonder where we put the pictures?”

  • Review plans for the day, what you’ll do together and what you’ll do alone.

If your partner doesn’t remember the plans, or says they don’t want to do anything, be encouraging. If they say, “I don’t want you to leave me alone,” be adaptable.

Each response you get from your partner is a clue to just where they are with you. You may be facing depression, self-pity, dementia, or regular old fear of the unknown from your partner and not know it yourself.

  • Mood changes, mood swings, and unusual behavior.

They might result from their condition, or the meds they take for their condition. As long as your mood doesn’t swing, change, or get unusual, you’ll be okay.

The side benefit of shouldering the caregiving burden? It’s notĀ a burden, but a chance to see a new you, a better you. You learn patience you never thought you had. You find tolerance of things you used to push away.

Every day becomes a chance to make a bigger difference to one person. It’s not your loved one we’re talking about now, it’s you. Your loved one may or may not appreciate the effort, but everyone you know sees a new role model to follow when their turn comes.

And their time will come.

(Special thanks to KH)




About David Gillaspie
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