Aligning Priorities as Caregiving Demands Change
Aligning priorities as caregiving demands change became part of my world in February. That’s when the residential facility where my mother lives reinstated room visits. Wahoo!
After a year of staying home all day every day, I dedicated a half day a week to running errands for and visiting Mom. Since then her health has slowly declined and the visits have become more frequent. She’s 92, and I think the trend’s going to continue.
What I’ve discovered in the past few months is this: the process of aligning priorities as caregiving demands change is almost identical for parents of kids with disabilities and adult children caring for elderly parents.
It’s a daily reality.
It’s a continual process.
It’s a schedule buster.
It’s a flexibility booster.
It’s a character builder.
It’s a daily exercise of grace toward the loved ones we care for and for ourselves.
As a caregiver, you know what I’m talking about. Here’s how aligning priorities as caregiving demands change have impacted my life lately:
- Culver runs. Mom loves Heath concrete mixers made with their frozen vanilla custard so I schedule enough time to pick one up before visits.
- Amazon search. Tooth brushing is hard for Mom, so I ordered her some kidney-shaped basins (also known as emesis basins) used by hospitals. That way the workers at her care center can bring the basin, her toothbrush, and a glass of water to her while she’s sitting in her easy chair. Me too, after she finishes her Culver’s ice cream.
- Asking for help. For example, when scheduling group Zoom meetings, I ask for a volunteer who can lead the meeting in my absence if something comes up for Mom. Knowing that the show can go on without me brings great peace of mind and gives someone else a chance to gain skills.
- Saying no. I belong to several committees and planning boards that advocate for people with disabilities. Normally, I volunteer to do my share of the work. This spring I’m saying no because other committee members can do that work in this season when only my siblings and I can provide what Mom needs.
- Hiring another VA. My current part time VA, who keeps the Different Dream website bright and shiny, is amazing and wonderful. She recently took a full time job and doesn’t have time to assist with social media posting and some website cleanup. So I hired a second part time VA who is being trained by the other one. Now there are 2 people who know the ins and outs of Different Different. More peace of mind. Ahhh!
- Expanding childhood trauma education. Because I’ve scaled back in other areas, this has become a priority, second only to Mom’s needs as the pandemic has increased interest in and requests for childhood trauma training. A small college asked me to develop a class for their online master’s in education program. My virtual online classes for educators scheduled for June are already full. Schools are booking inservice trainings for next year. My siblings and I are good at tag teaming when one of us has an unbreakable work commitment. Again, great peace of mind.
- Fewer Different Dream posts. Because of changing priorities and because the website has a huge stock of exceptional content, the website is now posting only 1 or 2 posts a week. Some are from me and some are from guest bloggers.
Are you in a season ofaligning priorities as caregiving demands change for your child or elderly loved one? What do your new priorities? How did you determine them? If you would like to write a guest post about your experience with changing priorities (or any other caregiving topic), you’re invited to check out the guest blogger guidelines and learn how to contact Different Dream here. I’d love to hear from you!
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Jolene Philo is the author of the Different Dream series for parents of kids with special needs. She speaks at parenting and special needs conferences around the country. She’s also the creator and host of the Different Dream website. Sharing Love Abundantly With Special Needs Families: The 5 Love Languages® for Parents Raising Children with Disabilities, which she co-authored with Dr. Gary Chapman, was released in August of 2019 and is available at local bookstores, their bookstore website, and at Amazon.
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