In the post-caregiving phase of life, we can feel pulled in opposite directions. There is often a natural response to retreat from the outer world and try to process all that we’ve been through. As time marches on, we may feel the call to help other caregivers, and that means opening ourselves up to listening to other people’s experiences.
Over the last several years, I have followed many other caregivers via blogs and have been a virtual witness to their highs and lows. I am a member of a caregiver Facebook group and admittedly sometimes I scroll past the heartbreaking posts because there is only so much I can take. I would love to be able to help each and every one, but of course that’s impossible.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an in-person support group at Amy’s Place for dementia caregivers, and it was a moving experience. I was there in part to hand out caregiver gift bags that are part of my Respite Care Share project, but my most important action that night was simply listening.
It was disheartening to hear that many of the issues I encountered with my father’s care are still going on today, five years later. Some of the caregiver’s stories brought back painful memories. But there was a power in sharing stories, exchanging tips and advice, and offering moral support.
Family caregivers take on so much, but often find few opportunities to vent. Whether you attend a formal support group or just offer a sympathetic ear to a friend or family member, make an effort to be a listener on a regular basis. It can mean the world of difference to those going through difficult times.