It’s a snowy day basically everywhere in the State today. It’s not a great day to be out traveling for your own sake or for your loved ones, either. Many of my clients have my cell phone number, and already in the morning I got two calls from clients with the same issue: they feel guilty that they cannot get out of their house today to see their loved ones. What did I tell them?
Sometimes people will listen to reason and take a breath, take a break for themselves. Sometimes it takes six inches of snow, a half-inch ice, or a statewide travel ban to get the message across. Caregiver guilt is a terrible thing mostly because it doesn’t actually come from the person who needs help. That person, if they were healthy, would immediately tell you that there’s no reason to strain yourself beyond all human endurance. You need to learn to live your life in balance, and that means your caregiving needs to be just one part of the equation. To give someone else literally one hundred percent of your time and energy means there’s nothing left for you – and that’s a recipe for disaster. You, the caregiver, will burn out or worse. You will be unable to do what you want to do, and how are you helping your loved one then?
I talk to people every day in some phase of a crisis situation. They are grappling with the reality that their lives are completely out of balance now, and they have come to see me (or the people who kindly refer me to them). I explain to them that balance in life is essential, and completely missing right now. My goal is not to eliminate caregiver stress (heaven forfend) but to make it manageable. As a lawyer that usually means taking the reality of Medicaid, asset protection, asset planning, Veteran’s pensions, wills, trusts, guardianships…whatever it is, and going step by step until it gets resolved. It’s a job I treasure, and that gives my life meaning.
I think of things like this on a snowy day. It’s not a great day to travel but it’s a great day to help people reduce their stress. Even if it takes a statewide travel ban to convince them to slow down for a little while.