How many hats can you wear at a time? As a caregiver, I sometimes felt like the Dr. Seuss character: Cat In the Hat. I don’t remember the story well, but remember a character with lots of hats piled high on his head.
As the caregiver for my husband in our home the past 1 3/4 years, besides patient care nurse, I had to be the laundress, cook, dishwasher, financial manager, secretary, maid, chauffeur, encourager, comforter, helper. I also lead a weekly Bible Study group and a Sunday School class, sing in the church choir, and attend Prayer Warriors. Plus I’m a writer. Is it any wonder I felt frazzled much of the time?
But now, things have changed. My husband, Paul, entered another nursing home last week. His legs became too weak to do the walking or standing he needed to do, plus he had other problems. It seemed unsafe to keep on caring for him at home.
It is tempting to feel like I failed him, because I couldn’t continue to care for him adequately at home; but he reassured me the next day, “You were a wonderful caregiver.” That made me feel better. It wasn’t the first time he’d said that. My husband is usually quite appreciative. He often called me his “angel caregiver.”
I can’t say I’ve mastered the “angel caregiver” position, but here are a few characteristics of it:
- First of all, make sure you are in tune with the Lord Jesus. Rely on his strength.
- Let your husband know every day that you love him. Kiss him and hug him.
- Be patient. Try not to rush him when he takes tiny baby steps to go somewhere. Also, wait patiently, showing interest, when he is trying to think of words he wants to say. Help if you can.
- Let him do the things he is able to do, even though you could do it faster. He wants to be independent.
- Kindness: Try not to show irritation when he gets frustrated and angry because things aren’t easy.
- Gentleness: When giving instructions, try to do so with gentleness. (Maybe humor would help). Try not to sound ‘bossy.’ Give choices whenever it wouldn’t matter which he chooses.
- Self-Control: Pray that God will give you all these qualities, especially self-control. I found that when I was afraid (for instance that he would fall,) I had a tendency to yell at him to “stand up straight,” “turn” “don’t sit yet,” “move over farther,” “No, don’t sit on the floor!” When I got to this point of being often concerned about his safety, we both suspected (and the doctor confirmed) it was time for him to go to the nursing home.
I would often quote to myself: “God’s grace is sufficient for me. His strength is made perfect in weakness. (II Corinthians 12:9).