Monday, November 4, 2013

Caregiving 101: Respect and Honor - The Things We Do

     First let me say that my caregiving experience so far has been limited to caring for my mother and my husband; and my care of my husband has been limited to the times he has been recovering from pneumonia and broken bones.  While I am not experienced in caregiving of a disabled or terminally ill child, for a disabled or terminally ill spouse, or other loved one, I truly believe that respect and honor is vital for both the caregiver to give and the care receiver to receive, regardless of who we are caring for. 

     And many times, the respect and honor is unrequited.  But just because we give respect and honor and do not receive it in return does not exempt us from giving it!

     As we shared last time, respect and honor for our loved ones comes in many forms.  While saying "Yes, Mama", or "No, Mama", "Yes, Sir" or "No, Sir" is respectful and right to do, these are not the only ways to demonstrate it.

     When we prepare the foods they like (of course, within the guidelines of any special dietary restrictions), bring them some little special snack, ask their advice on their meal menu, these are all ways of respecting them.

     When we tell others of how precious they are, especially within their range of hearing, it builds their self-esteem and honors them.

     When we try to make them as comfortable as possible in their present situation, we respect them.

     When we read to them, talk with them, share our time with them, we are honoring them for who they are.

     My sister-in-law, Tina, is now involved in a very hard phase of caregiving.  Her mother has been placed in hospice care and the family is being counseled for the end of life situation that will undoubtedly come soon.  Rather than leave the custodial care and attempts at feeding to the hospice and nursing home staff, Tina daily prepares broth, jello, and juice and goes to be with her mother, spending hours trying to coax her mother to take just a sip of nourishment.  Tina still bathes her and sees to her custodial needs, talking to her, reading to her, and just being there.  This is honoring and respecting her mother.
     These acts of love and kindness are not just for the loved one receiving it, but for us, too.  Brushing your loved one's teeth or cleaning their soiled clothing can be humbling, but nothing is beneath you when you are caring for someone you love.  Tiring, yes; emotionally draining, oh yes!  But showing respect and honor for the loved one nurtures something vital in our soul and matures us in ways comfort and ease never will.

     As caregivers we have a tremendous opportunity to be at the same time a blessing and to be blessed by what we are doing in word, deed, and action for the ones we love.  May our Lord show us how to do what we do in such a way that we bless Him most of all!

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