Real People Network Stories

A Caregiver’s Reflections

By Patricia Austin — Published January 12th, 2022

Caregiving encompasses so may jobs. One dictionary defines caregiving this way: “A profession of regularly looking after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person”. The dictionary continues: “Caregiving is filled with rewards and joy, but it can also be overwhelming and exhausting”. 

I thought, “This definition susinctly describes caregiving in two short sentences”. Having cared for 6 family members over a 20 year period, the 2nd sentence truly describes the essence of caring for a loved family member. 

What makes caregiving rewarding? What is it about caregiving that brings joy?. What is there about caregiving that a can be overwhelming? Why is it said it can be exhausting?

Most persons who ultimately become family caregivers never anticipate that caregiving will someday become part of their lives. Life happens to our loved ones, an accident, sudden illness or the birth of a disabled child may unexpectedly alter our focus! We are suddenly faced with a situation that involves our loved one! How will we respond, how can we manage? Usually one is not prepared for these life altering events. What is amazing is that so many family members try to rise to the occasion and any assistance and advice from those who have traveled this rewarding road before can make all the difference in the world!

How I remember the words of one couple who cared for their aging parents: “The Caregiver & Loved Ones’ Hearts Become Entwined”. I learned how true that kind man’s words were. I can attest I found joy I never expected from being my in-laws and my parents and my younger brother’s Cheerleader, Comforter, Reassurer, and Protector. Their appreciative hearts, moments of intimate conversations and laughter still bring a smile to my heart and comfort me. I would not change a thing. Any sacrifices made were a gift to them and to myself. Saying goodbye to them was the hardest thing I ever did as a Caregiver. I absolutely have no regrets. Just as my friend said our hearts did become entwined. The memories are a treasure I keep with me always. 

— Patricia Austin