Welcome to National Family Caregivers Month. What is a caregiver? Basically, if you're someone with special needs necessary for living a normal life, you will need someone to help you meet those needs. That is a caregiver (also called a carer in some parts of the world).
While our blog focuses on disabilities, particularly mobility deficiencies, most of it is written by a caregiver with input by the one cared for (for the perspective of the person being cared for, you can check out Tim's series of posts called Cerebral Palsy Stories).
During this month, we'll be posting some articles about caregiving, what it is, how to do it, and how to pay for it. Our focus will be on persons needing help due to mobility issues.
As we said in the last installment, being a caregiver...especially a family caregiver...can be a 24/7 occupation. From waking to bedtime, there is never a time when our son Tim can be assured to not need some help.
We don't really mind, this has been our reality...our normal...for over thirty years. We're used to it but we'd be lying if we said that it doesn't get grueling sometimes.
When that happens, we could really use a break.
Technically, a break for a caregiver is called a respite. Sometimes, you can even get a little money to help you take that break from the caree.
We're lucky in that we have two people working with Tim and my wife and I are partners in his care. When one is helping him, the other can rest.
When Tim was younger, and easier to lift and handle, we could get a family member to come over and give us a few hours off. Tuesdays used to be date night when my mom would come over to watch Tim while we'd go out to dinner.
Tim used to go to a special needs summer camp. Letty and I would use that time to have a getaway for ourselves but when he got older, he didn't really care to go to a camp that treated him as if he were still a child so that is no longer on the table.
These days, it's more of the little things we can do to get a break. I'll get up an hour before Tim and my wife so I can have that as some "me time," have a cup of coffee, catch up on the news, and relax before my day with him begins.
I'll take Tim for a walk so my wife can have some time to herself at home. Conversely, my wife will stay at home with him while I go for a walk by myself...an added benefit is that those walks do wonders for my physical and mental health.
For the most part, however, we work on getting along and liking our time together so we can all spend enjoyable time together.
If you do become a caregiver, either by choice or necessity, remember to get some respite time. It can be the difference in keeping your well being in top shape.
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