Being a caregiver for a loved one is a very personal journey. We might start off with different motivations, with some of us having volunteered to care for a loved one and others who did not have much choice in the matter. Whatever the circumstances, I would argue that we all strive to do our best whether it involves investing time, finances, or energy. While giving our best can feel rewarding and empowering, it can also be taxing and exhausting. Having been a caregiver myself, I often struggled with the repetitiveness of it. Most days with my mother followed the same format; most days even featured the same dialogues. The topics would center around food, the weather and family members. And no matter how much I loved my mother, some days felt like groundhog days and caregiving like a chore.
What happens over time when we become a caregiver, is that we lose sight of why we are caring for our loved one to begin with. We lose sight of our original relationship. Sometimes we even lose sight of who the person still is under the layers of age or illness. When we come to that point, it is high time to break the cycle of routine and boredom. Now, that doesn’t mean that you pack up and go on a road trip with your loved one. But it might give both of you a boost in spirit if you have a special day where you reconnect, person to person. For myself, I tried to think of what my mother and I loved and what we had in common. What came to mind were different traditions, favorite activities, treats, and songs.
Think of what you and your loved one enjoy. And while you are at it, let conventions go. Maybe your loved one’s favorite holiday is Christmas. You could sit down together and sing Christmas carols or watch a Hallmark movie. Here are some more ideas that came to mind:
- Listen to their favorite music, maybe even dance if they are physically able
- Watch their favorite movie while snacking on popcorn
- Go for a walk or drive
- Spend some time with animals or invite a therapy dog
- Dress up for dinner
- Play a cardboard game
- Cook together
- Celebrate their favorite holiday, even if it’s not the right time of year
- Listen to the radio
- Read them a story
- Go through old photos and walk down memory lane
- Invite friends or family over for a little gathering
These are just some examples. Obviously not everyone has the same likes or dislikes. It also depends on your loved ones physical and mental condition. This is something that you might have to talk to your loved one’s doctors and health professionals about. You can plan these events with your loved one which might give you something else to talk about or look forward to or you can present them as random surprises. Keep in mind though that these breaks are as much for yourself as for your loved one. More than likely you will find that these occasions help you reconnect and make you feel re-energized. Remember that caregiving is a very individual journey, and you have the ability to shape some of the path.
Petra is a Jenerations intern. Petra is an MSW student at Salisbury University. She is currently interning at Jenerations and has big plans to make the world a better place, one person at a time.