For Caregivers Appreciation Month, Giving a Gift from my Heart

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My heart, my partner…the worlds best caregiver!

When I learned I had ALS, my whole world changed, because on that day, I officially became an ALS patient. Lauren’s world changed as well because, just as suddenly, she became my caregiver. I appreciate her taking on this challenging responsibility more than she’ll ever know.

For some ALS patients and their caregivers, the roles begin almost immediately. Ours was a slow creep. Over one year my ALS symptoms caused me to give up cooking, doing laundry, driving, and running errands by myself. Lauren stepped up and willingly took on the duties — even having to deal with a big learning curve, she has been here for me every step of the way. Believe me when I tell you, it’s no easy task. Emotionally and physically!

Currently, the ALS Association estimates that as many as 30,000 Americans are living with ALS. But when we factor in how many people are affected by ALS, the number is much greater. Spouses become caregivers, family members do, too, and the circle of care widens to include extended family, friends, and professional staff.

With November being National Family Caregivers Month, we have the wonderful opportunity to show our gratitude to everyone in our circle of care.

18209229_10155304863103573_732665643191088852_oBut what if you are an ALS patient? My options for gift-giving are pretty limited. Simply hopping in the car to secretly buy a card and a special gift for Lauren is no longer possible. Still wanting to do something, I asked myself, “What would make her role as a caregiver a little easier?”

The answer came in the form of giving a gift from my heart: being aware of my behaviors and of how small changes on my part can help her days to be less stressful.

Following is a list I recently found and read. I will try my very best to adhere to these… gifts that will give back to both of us:

I love you, Lauren McCabe! ❤️ 🌻

My attitude

Living with ALS means there will be stressful events, changes in symptoms, and unexpected challenges. Emotions can ignite, and it’s easy to lash out and blame whoever is in close proximity. This happens way more than it needs to.

I will keep an optimistic attitude, be open to new ideas, and be willing to adapt to changes. When offered, I will accept help and suggestions, knowing they are intended for my safety and not to curtail my sense of independence.

Be mindful

When I’m lost in thought and not paying attention to what I’m doing, I’m at a greater risk of spilling, dropping, choking, or — worse yet — falling. These make Lauren’s job of caregiver much harder.

I will continue to work at being mindful and bringing awareness to my everyday activities. If memories or worries cloud my thoughts, I’ll take a slow deep breath, bring my mind into the present moment, and pay attention to what I’m doing. 🙏🏻

Actively listen

Over time life can become routine, conversations dull, and we can tune each other out. This leads to misunderstandings and feelings of loss of personal value.

I will try to practice active listening: looking at the person speaking, smiling and responding with interest, and adding to the conversation.

Caregiving is a partnership between the giver and the receiver of care. Caregivers deserve our recognition and gratitude. So, I share a special “thank you” to ALS caregivers around the world.

Together, we can learn to live well while living with ALS.

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Above was from an article and written (with a few of my own edits to personalize) by: Dagmar Munn

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