By: Rick Lauber
Caregiving gets a lot of negative press. Parents age; become sick; and, eventually, pass away. Families bicker about care decisions. COVID-19 has torn families apart and isolated seniors living in long-term care homes. But it’s not all bad!
As my parents grew older, I learned of their different health conditions – Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia while Dad had Alzheimer’s disease. I was thrust into caregiving duties without warning or experience to help me. My newfound duties included moving my parents (repeatedly); downsizing their belongings; chauffeuring them to medical appointments; paying their ongoing bills and helping to manage their investments; working with a realtor to sell their retirement home in another province; and in due course, serving as my father’s Joint Guardian and Alternate Trustee (when he became unable to make life and financial decisions for himself).
Undoubtedly, the job of caregiving was trying, but it also became one of the best experiences of my life. From offering my help and support (physically, mentally, and emotionally), I provided my parents the best quality of life possible, bonded more with Mom and Dad and my two sisters, became more self-confident, improved as a writer, increased my organizational skills, and realized my own capabilities. Through caregiving, I grew both personally and professionally and have authored two published caregiving guidebooks: Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide.
One of the most important lessons I learned was that caregiving becomes easier when the workload is shared. My additional helping hands included my sisters, Mom and Dad’s doctors, a senior’s transportation service, a day hospital program for Dad, and the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. I also learned that caregivers can also practice respite – or self-care. By doing something just for themselves, caregivers can rest, recharge, and greatly benefit.
Many caregiving resources exist locally, provincially, and nationally in Canada to help make the job easier. Caregivers can access information about services and supports by calling the Ontario Caregiver Helpline at 1-833-416-2273. Additionally, caregivers can find many helpful resources listed here,
Rick Lauber is a published book author and an established freelance writer. Lauber has written two books, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide (both published by Self-Counsel Press) as valuable resources for prospective, new, and current caregivers. He is also very pleased to have been twice-selected as a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul (Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Christmas! and Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat). To learn more about Rick and/or connect with him via social media, check out: www.ricklauber.com.