by Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.
Sooner or later, most of us will enter the ranks of caregivers to older persons. Most probably, this care will be required in support of our own parents or family members. Yet, so many of us are unprepared for the role. As a result it's very common to experience a cascade of feelings; some that inspire us, and others that may deflate us. We can become exhausted and exasperated, conflicted and guilty, frustrated and just plain spent.
We do best in the caregiving role when, 1) we're equipped with a certain fund of knowledge about older persons and about the role of caregiving, and 2) when we know our fundamental goal is to achieve the best relationship possible between our self and the one we care about and for. Our quest to achieve these two brings new challenges at every turn. Relationship building and maintenance is difficult enough in the best of times, but it's dramatically complicated by physical and mental diminishment, on the one hand, and possible family or relationship tension from the past, on the other.
On a psychological level we need to see caregiving as an arena of growth for ourselves; that we have something very important to gain from the encounter. On a spiritual level we need to see the caregiving role as a primary arena for learning the love of Christ like we've never learned it before.
When seen from a perspective of faith, caregiving becomes a triangle of love between God, you, and your aging parent. Without faith in the mix, caregiving can degenerate into a repetitious succession of performing tasks; such a condition eventually makes us sick because it alienates us from ourselves, from others, and from God.
Learn much more about the elder caregiving role by logging onto: http://www.senioradultministry.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=COURSE107
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