Care for the Caregiver

June 2018

Katherine Qua Hill

Katherine Qua Hill works in a skilled nursing facility. She and her husband Don share their North Carolina home with two cats.

My late Aunt Kay knew she was losing her mental faculties, especially around the time she began repeating things for no reason. It was then that I realized it as well.

Kay lived in Texas and I was in New Hampshire. When I visited, she and I would journey for hours around Corpus Christi to the shores of Padre Island. Each time she pointed out the delicate purple snails in the Saragossa seaweed. I will treasure those moments.

It is very painful to lose someone we love, especially when their mental ability disappears first, leaving only their physical presence behind. So many emotions are normal and natural at this stage: grief, resentment, anger, and worry are but a few feelings my family experienced.

Through caring for my aunt, we learned many things, the first of which was that caregivers need to care for themselves.

How can a caregiver get help?

• Reach out to others, including friends and family—even volunteers who can step in when you need a break.

• Take care of yourself so that you can, in turn, take care of others—for example, sleep, proper diet, exercise for physical health, prayer for spiritual health.

• Reward yourself with some relaxing pleasures such as a warm bath, some comfort food, solitude, a nature walk, relaxing music, and so on.

• Lastly, you do not have to do everything yourself. You can’t; it’s impossible. Most important, remember that you are not alone.