Saturday, March 1, 2008

Different Perspective

Something I've realized just recently is how different my perspective is about other people because of my caregiving. Maybe it is my age as well as the caregiving.

What's changed?

I was 50 the year I became a caregiver. I didn't feel 50 if you know what I mean. I remember thinking back then that everyone must feel younger than they are because that's the way I felt. In some ways I felt tired and worn out but that's different than feeling age. But I would meet people, or visit with people I knew, and I never once thought about them as needing a caregiver or being a caregiver. It just never entered my mind.

That's not true now.

Everyone I meet I go through this little mental exercise about them. I size them up. I think of them in terms of either needing care or giving care. My mother-in-law is 86. Every time I see her that track in my head repeats. When will she be unable to live alone? And then all the other questions cascade from that one.

I had a meeting the other day with three men. I had met them before but that doesn't matter. It had nothing to do with caregiving. They were all younger than my soon 60. But I pictured them in hospital beds with someone shaving them and helping them toilet and all those things I know too well. Then I pictured them helping their own parents because they are all nearing that time in their lives. But they are all married, too, so I wondered if the caregiving would be theirs or their spouses. Not that I credit or discredit one against the other. I understand that there is a need for income. I understand that very well. Or I wondered if the marriages would survive.

And, mind you, I know nothing about these men or their families. It is just all imagination that burns up time in my head.

Then I look at my son or his friend or the other fellow in our office. I go through all the same thoughts.

All of it happens quickly. I think it is not noticeable. I would not tell anyone about it. Well, except you all who read my blog, but that's different.


Lori1955 said...

It's strange but I always think I am younger than I am too and that everyone else is old. I look at things a bit differently than you do though. I look at my friends and family and wonder which ones I will end up being a caregiver to. I've never really even thought of the fact that I may someday need care myself.

~Betsy said...

I go through similar things, Terry. I also wonder who will need caregiving or who will step up and do it. I notice daughters helping their frail mothers in grocery stores and feel a bond with them, even though they are total strangers.

I am constantly amazed at how much this experience has changed my life and my outlook.

Susan M said...

Me too Flinty,I was the on-hands caregiver for my Dad 11 years ago, when I was 48. The long distance caregiver for my MIL til she passed last October. My experience with my Dad didn't change me, but this time did.

Maybe it's because my husband and I will be 60 as well this year. Or maybe I'm more sensitive now and more aware. I find that I now identify with people more; that I am less critical; that I truly want to help if I can; and that I'm realizing for the first time Who is completely in charge. And it's not me, the fix it kind of person. Oh if I could have a do-over with my Dad!

My MIL's brother(the last uncle) was just diagnosed with dementia consistent with AD last week. And my heart is in my shoes. At least we are now close by and can help. I guess that is all we all can do. And it is just too sad.

~♥Chris♥~ said...

Wow, looks like we have all been experiencing the same stuff lately, or even for a while. I watch as my inlaws become a bit more fragile as time goes by, how my husband's grandma gets a bit more forgetful with each visit. And yet all I want to do is wrap them up in my arms and shelter them from age and the trials that come with it.

(((Hugs Terry)))

nancy said...

i found myself nodding as i read your post terry. i think post caregiving i have also looked at and analyied people i meet or talk to, "will they need care?" "will they step up to the plate and be a caregiver?"

as others have all commented in the past, i truly believe this whole process does change an individual. great post terry!

p.s. please let us know when the big 6-0 will bless you so we can all send you birthday wishes!

Joanne said...

Like the others, I found myself nodding and agreeing with your entire post. Caregiving certainly does change a person. Whenever that big 60 comes--Happy Birthday!