Its retirement day.
On this day, you thought you would be happy. But, this retirement is not the one you planned for. This retirement features caregiving. An aging parent needs help and you're the one in the position to do just that.
How do you feel good about retiring from one career when caregiving seems to be the next one the one without benefits and a paid vacation?
We've got some tips to help you cope:
1. Grieve for the old dream. The dream of your retirement day was something like a best friend it kept you going on bad days, energized you when working became exhausting, became the common denominator you thought you and your spouse had lost. That retirement dream was awesome. Cry for it. Its okay.
2. Create your new dream. It will look different, but it can still be a best friend. Whats your new dream?
3. Create a caregiving mission statement. Your mission statement reflects your caregiving goals and your caregiving personality. Your mission statement will serve as a reminder of what you can and cannot do as a family caregiver, as well as whats most important to you and to your care recipient. It also details your regular breaks, your back-up plans, your goals and your care recipients wishes.
4. Re-brand retirement. Rather than lazy days in the sun, maybe retirement now means taking classes at the community college or joining the monthly book club at your local library. Move from thinking retiring to contemplating reinventing. Caregiving may have cemented you in one place, but its given you a chance to reinvent yourself. Start the process now.
5. List your values about caregiving. Why is this important? Caregiving can feel like the game-losing interception on the one-yard line when your teams down by five with 30 seconds left in the Super Bowl. A great way to re-group is to consider your values associated with caregiving. Why is it important for you to step in and care?
Duty? Responsibility? Giving back? Write down those values and refer to them regularly, especially when the thought of that interception makes you want to cry.
6. Keep communicating. Talk about caregiving responsibilities with your spouse and other family members. You may be the primary caregiver, but you're not the only one. Update others regularly on your care recipients condition and care needs. And, keep them in the loop on how well you are managing. Ask for help. And, take help when its offered.
7. Live for a guilt-free no. When you're in a caregiving role, your life can turn upside down and then spin you around. You may think you can manage without minimizing commitments. You cant. Understand and respect your limits. Say no to requests that are too much. And, say no without any guilt. You cant. That's all.
8. Focus on interests and relationships that bring you happiness. Take a few moments daily to focus on an activity that refreshes and rejuvenates. Start your day with a meditation or prayer. End it by listing your blessings.
9. Take care. Protect your good health. Its your most important asset.
10. Journal. Let it out by writing it out. Caregiving will bring thoughts and feelings that will surprise and shock you. So much so you may worry about sharing them with family and friends. Put them in your journal, which always keeps a secret.