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7 Essential Do’s and Don’ts for People Caring for Caregivers
By Lisa Lopez

(Page 3 of 3)

5. DO HAVE EMPATHY – As Atticus Finch said in the wonderful novel To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” If your caregiver’s family member doesn’t already live with you, make a point to accompany them to visit their loved one from time to time. This will give you a glimpse into their world and what they are going through. In my case, my dad lives two and a half hours away. It takes every ounce of energy I have to get in the car, drive to see him, spend time with him and then drive another two and a half hours back home. Doing it alone can be downright drudgery. It’s nice to have my husband along so that I can vent, cry or even laugh. This has also really helped him see what I go through and why I sometimes need that two hour nap when I get home!
6. DON’T JUDGE – No matter what your loved one’s relationship is to the person they’re caring for, remember, it’s their choice to be the caregiver. In my case, my husband didn’t understand why I wanted to take on the responsibility of becoming my father’s guardian. My father and I weren’t very close when I was growing up. Add this to the fact that his dementia was most likely brought on by alcoholism and my husband had a couple of handy rationales as to why I should wash my hands of the whole thing. I had to explain to my husband that the past doesn’t matter and I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to make the rest of my dad’s life comfortable. So, no matter the circumstances, leave the judgment out of it, accept your loved one’s choice and support them in any decision they make.
7. DO LAUGH – It’s been said that laughter is the closest distance between two people. No truer words have been spoken, especially when it comes to caregiving. Laughter is the main thing that has gotten me through this past year. My aunt and I have a saying, “If we didn’t laugh, we’d cry.” Even though there have been a few times when we never thought we’d ever see another ray of sunshine, my aunt and I have somehow been able to find humor, and sometimes in the most bizarre, morbid places. When I try to explain some of the perversely funny things I’ve seen and heard since taking over my dad’s care, some of my friends and family look at me as if I have two heads. I want to say to them, “Hey, lighten up! It’s okay to laugh.”  So, loosen up and follow your loved ones’ lead. If they’re laughing, join in. It’s contagious and that’s a sickness everyone can afford to catch.


Lisa Lopez is a Grants Research Manager at a nonprofit organization in Greensboro, NC. Lisa and her family have been caring for her 68-year-old father for more than a year. She is an avid writer of short stories, plays, screenplays and essays. She has a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She lives with her husband, two dogs and five cats.


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