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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  /Heroes Abound /  Editorial List

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Heroes Abound

Please indulge me for a moment as I put on my curmudgeon’s hat once again.  This is a message to those who have begun writing about family caregivers. Bless you for the light you are helping to shine on a much needed population; the more ink spread in the service of family caregivers, the better.  I have just one favor to ask, and that is to stop simply referring to caregivers as heroes and saints in your articles.  Certainly you are correct that all family caregivers are undeniable heroes and earthly saints, but that is only half of the story and to stop there does each and every caregiver a great disservice.

On a recent poll at the strengthforcaring website, almost a third  of caregivers responded to the question “Why are you a caregiver?” in the following manner:  “If I don’t do it, who will?”  At the same time, one of the greatest complaints I hear from caregivers at the Fearless Caregiver Conferences and in our discussion group (where I am an unabashed lurker), is the challenge of getting family members to help as we care for our loved ones.  One of the themes that come through loud and clear is that  our family members don’t know (certainly some don’t want to know) what is involved in our lives to the point that they think we can easily handle it all ourselves.

“Don’t worry about mom, Joanie can handle it, she’s a real hero.” After all, would you think of going off to fight arch villains with Spiderman as he swings across the sky to battle the Goblin or Superman as he leaps tall buildings to fend off Lex Luthor.  I actually like to think of us as loving managers of all services for our loved ones, a manager who needs (and deserves) as much support from friends and family members as possible.   

Are caregivers heroes and saints? You bet. Of the epic kind, but let’s tell the world the whole story, of what it takes for us to get through the entire day, day after day,  so those much deserved labels don’t get in the way of our friends and family members helping us care for our loved ones. That way, they can become heroes and saints, too.  

Gary Barg

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