11 Things Being A Caregiver For My Family Has Given Me In Return

11 Things Being A Caregiver For My Family Has Given Me In Return

I don’t take care of my family for the recognition from others, I do it because I love them.

I currently help take care of my uncle who has Down Syndrome, my great uncle who has chromosomal miscounts, my grandmother who has had three amputation surgeries this summer and my grandfather who is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.

I have had many opportunities to learn as I have helped take care of my family members.

I want to share the lessons that I have learned, especially with those that take care of others.

1. Patience Is Important

There are days when I forget that my family members are older than I am. Sometimes, they cannot move or think as fast as I can. There are days when we don’t get along, even if it's over something that's unimportant.

Regardless, I love my family and have had to learn to be patient with them.

I also remind myself that they are patient with me.

2. Communication Is So Much More Than Spoken Words

Both of my uncles can be very difficult to understand verbally at times and get frustrated because of it.

Instead of increasing their frustration I have learned different ways to communicate with them.

Pointing, drawing and acting out what is needed or wanted are all ways that we can communicate without speaking.

3. It's The Little Things That Matter

My uncle loves coloring, and seeing his face light up when he has drawn something for me is priceless. My grandparents will often bring home treats for me when they’ve gone shopping.

Even just a hug will make my day.

4. Remember To Tell Your Family That You Love Them

This seems obvious if you are taking care of them, but it is important.

Caregiving may show that you care, but it means less if you forget to express it verbally.

Again, the little things matter.

5. There Will Be People Who Don't Understand Why You Choose To Be A Caregiver

Why would someone choose to take online college courses instead of moving on-campus?

Because my family is important to me.

Because of this, I decided to further my education while still helping them as much as I possibly can.

6. It's OK To Doubt Yourself

I’ve faced situations when I’ve been insecure about my abilities as a caregiver.

Life is unpredictable.

There will be situations when you don’t know what to do, and that's OK.

7. It's OK To Ask For Help

When you become overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

It is better to ask for help and feel a bit stupid than to struggle and regret your decisions later.

8. There Will Be Days When You Need A Break

If you don’t occasionally make time for yourself, you will get worn out.

Even if it’s just going to the grocery store by yourself, find a way to get away.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of those you love.

9. You Will Wonder How Much Longer You Have With Your Family

I have seen my family members go through extremely difficult health problems. It’s scary when you're faced with knowing that you could lose them at any moment.

Don’t give up hope or the memories you have of them.

10. Stay Humble

While it’s nice when people tell me that I’m inspirational for taking care of my family, it's also embarrassing.

I don’t take care of my family for the recognition from others, I do it because I love them.

11. You'll Never Regret Time Spent With Your Family

There are days when I disagree with my family members, days when I wonder how much longer I’ll have with them and days I just shake my head. Yet, I don’t regret any of the time I have spent with my family.

Being with my family through the difficult times is what has made us stronger.
Cover Image Credit: JaelAnn Hoover

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I Drifted But Now I'm Reaching Out

I'm not going to isolate myself anymore.

I’ve noticed that since I started college, I dropped a lot of habits. Some were habits that I really needed to get rid of, such as picking at my nails and snacking way too much. Other habits, though, I really shouldn’t have dropped. Maybe I just got too busy or lazy, or maybe it was just something for the high school me. Yeah, I’ve changed a lot in college but I’m going to try and get back into the good habits I had.

College gave me a lot of time. Suddenly I had all this free time and I realized that it was entirely up to me what I wanted to do with it. The freedom is really great, I won’t deny that, but what I noticed was that I found myself alone a lot.

Maybe it was my intention that some days I just wanted some alone time, but more often than not I found myself realizing that I hadn’t seen or talked to friends in a while. I realized I wasn’t hanging out with people anymore. I was alone.

Now, I know the importance of myself reaching out. Before I always worried that there was a reason I wasn’t seeing or talking to people as often, I mean, there was school so maybe everyone was just busy.

But I feared that I was missing out on so much was because I was unwanted in those moments. After gaining confidence, I've decided won’t isolate myself anymore. I’m an outgoing person, but I won’t be selectively outgoing anymore.

In high school, I could barely go two classrooms down without seeing someone and stopping to talk to them, and I want college to be the same way. It’s really impossible to know everyone at your college but reaching out isn’t that hard for me to do, I’ve just been lazy. I haven’t put in as much effort as I should be putting in and I know that if I want to keep some of the amazing friendships that I currently have, I need to not be distant.

It’s easy to drift away when emotions and events start piling up. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do is just lay in bed and not think about my to-do lists and schedules and problems that I have.

Once I start doing that though, I get sucked in and it becomes so hard to get the energy to get up and move. I don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to hide away with the “what ifs” and speculation as to why I didn’t go or get invited. From now on, I’m just going to go, and then see what happens.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To My Best Friends, Thank You

I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

I have gone through many friends in the past few years, some that lasted a while some that only lasted a few months, but you know exactly when you found your perfect person, soulmate, best friend, the one that will never get away. It’s the friends that stick with you through the toughest times and stay.

The ones you call at 3:00 a.m. because you got into a fight with your boyfriend and can’t sleep and they stay on the phone until your ready to sleep. The ones that you can count on to pick you up because you need a ride no matter where you are.

Dear Best Friends,

I just wanted to thank you for being you and for letting me be me. Thank you for letting me feel so much like myself when I’m with you. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, and for listening to my saddest stories and giving compassion and empathy from wherever you are. Thank you for being the only person I ever want to confide in. Thank you for being the most beautiful person, inside and out.

Thank you for making the world a better place, just by being in it. Thank you for defining selfless, always putting others before yourself, you are going to change the world just as much as you have changed mine. Thank you for all the memories we made at Disney this year on our senior trip. Thank you for practically being my second Mom.

Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend as good as you. Thank you for making these past years we have been friends feel like forever and for giving me enough memories to last a lifetime, but not ending there.

Thank you for making me hurt when I miss you, but for taking the hurt away when I see you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the absolute privilege of being able to call you my best friend, thank you for being my person. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for.

I sometimes find myself looking back on my life and realizing how huge of a part you have played in keeping me steady when the rest of my world has been falling apart. How you have known what to say and do in the moments when I have felt all control slipping through my fingers.

Even if it’s just dropping everything and taking me for coffee, shopping and listening to me try to untangle the mess I call my life. Thank you for those days when the rest of the world is against me, for making me feel less alone. For believing every silly dream which enters my head and being excited for me about things which no one else understands. Thank you for always validating my emotions, for taking my side, for telling me when I’m wrong, for being honest.

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