Viki Kind is one of my favorite authors. She is a source of immense comfort and help to caregivers as well as providing great information. Recently she very “kindly” consented to write a guest post for Inside Aging Parent Care as soon as she had a moment in her busy schedule. Her chosen topic turns out to be about one of my favorite recommendations to caregivers: Never stop reaching out for help! Thanks, Viki, for your great advice and counsel.
Are You Suffering from “Super-Caregiver Syndrome”?
by Viki Kind
Do you think that only you can do what it takes to make sure that your loved one is taken care of? Are you not comfortable leaving your loved one with someone else because the other person won’t do it as well as you would? When you do take a break, are you thinking about the person you left at home instead of enjoying your time off?
Years ago, I was a “Super-Hero Caregiver” because I thought that only I could do it “right” and that nobody could care for my loved one like I could. My devotion and arrogance cost me my physical and emotional health and I bet it is costing you as well.
If you think about superheroes, you rarely see them asking for help. They are too busy keeping the world safe. Personally, I have wondered if superheroes sometimes go home after a long day and say, “I need a break. Or ask, What about my needs?” But there is one group of superheroes that knows how to ask for help, The Legion of Super Heroes. They know that there is no shame in needing someone to help because even superheroes have weaknesses and can become vulnerable. They know that together, they are more powerful than when they are alone.
Imagine if caregivers teamed up and brought their wisdom and strengths together. What if we took turns watching each other’s loved ones like we used to do when we raised small children? What if we could focus on using our strengths and delegated the tasks that we struggle with to others who are willing to help.
I know that I didn’t believe it at the time, but now I know that there are people who are ready and willing to help. Ask for help from your faith community, the local Area Agency on Aging, the Well Spouse Association, the Center for Independent Living or the local high school kid who needs to put in some volunteer hours. You don’t have to do this alone. You deserve help and your needs count too.
Viki Kind is a clinical bioethicist, professional speaker and hospice volunteer. Her award winning book, “The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making: Making Choices for Those Who Can’t,” guides families and professionals through the difficult process of making decisions for those who have lost capacity. Viki is an honorary board member of the Well Spouse Association. She has also been a caregiver for many years for four members of her family.