The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions. – Ellen Glasgow
The foundation of the most successful care partnerships are organization and routine. While serving as the primary caregiver for my elder parents, I was focused on the completion of tasks associated with activities of daily living, medical treatment, and medication administration. In addition, I was consumed each month with meeting all obligations associated with managing the household such as bill paying, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
Given the monitoring and treatment complexities associated with some of the many health challenges of my parents, it was easy to be consumed in the “must do” mentality. In the early months of my caregiving journey, I almost felt like a prisoner to the growing responsibilities of my new role as a caregiver.
Most family caregivers are unpaid yet dedicate 30 or more hours per week to supporting loved ones in need on top of other roles such as parent, spouse, and/or worker. In order to do it all, it is easy to fall into a routine that become an energy draining rut.
Ellen Glasgow was spot on with the quotation shared above. Caregivers and the loved ones they support are susceptible to becoming trapped in a rut. Although routines are essential to maintain health and well-being, we need to add a little spice to life to avoid depression.
If you are finding yourself in a bit of a rut, here are some simple ways to get out of it…
- Go for a ride to a new place. Try taking a different road and stop to explore a store, a park, or a restaurant. This can be a really good thing to do with a loved one after a medical appointment rather than just going to pick up a prescription.
- Reconnect with old friends. A few days before my mother passed away, I called a few old friends and family members far away. My mother had never used Skype or Hangouts before for video calls and really enjoyed connecting with people that way. It really brightened our days during a most difficult time.
- Treat yourself to something new. You do not need to buy something expensive. Get a new book, a cup of a special coffee, or a new article of clothing.
- Take a walk on a beautiful day. Walks are good to feed our souls and boost our health. If you care for a loved one who cannot walk long distances, take them to accessible place and push them in the chair. This provides you with some good exercise and your loved one the ability to enjoy a bit of a nature.
- Engage in a hobby. Many caregivers set aside activities and interests that they enjoyed prior to entering the caregiving role. If you love art, crafts, music, sports, etc., find time to do it. Recently, I visited with a caregiver who was supporting someone with developmental disabilities. They were happy to share knitted crafts that were on display around the house rather than just show me how they were meeting direct caregiving responsibilities.
Now it’s your turn to bust the rut and dose you and the loved one you care for with some joy.