Two couples I know, both of them Baby Boomers, are spending almost every day running back and forth between their home and the hospital or nursing home, trying to care for very elderly parents. They are exhausted, physically and emotionally.
A friend of mine, herself a Baby Boomer, is struggling in hospital. She is facing a serious but non-life threatening operation, but it may take several months before this can happen. In the meanwhile, she is terrified that the hospital is going to send her home where she lives alone and must contend with stairs and other hazards. Her daughter, who lives in another city and has three very young children and a demanding job, is trying to find options for her mother’s care. But it’s not easy to manage these arrangements from so far away.
More than ever now people of faith need to find ways to support caregivers and their loved ones. It is all very well for us to pray for them, but we must do more than pray. Those who are in need of care often require someone to be their advocate and, if there is no family close by, then they should be able to depend upon their brothers and sisters in the faith community to help them.
Those who are doing the care-giving often need even more support, although many find it hard to acknowledge this. That is why great sensitivity is required when reaching out to friends and colleagues who are facing compassion fatigue. How can you give a caregiver a break? Recently I came across a wonderful article by Debbie Swanson which addresses this very issue. Check it out in Next Avenue: What Can You Do to Ease a Caregiver’s Burden?