Thankful for our caregivers

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Merriam-Webster defines a caregiver as a person who provides direct care for people who are chronically ill.
In my opinion and experience, caregivers are definitely worth their weight in gold.
During the Relay for Life Survivor Celebration, I met caregivers and cancer survivors.
Throughout my interviews, all of the women told me they wouldn’t have been able to make it without their caregivers.
In an ideal world, family members should want to care for their aging or chronically ill family members.
However, not all of us are equipped with PhDs in medicine or psychology or have the enormous amount of time to solely devote to the care of a loved one dealing with a major illness, no matter how much we might want to.
My mom is originally from Kentucky and since she lives in Diamondhead, providing care for my grandfather was not an option. He needed someone to be there for him 24-hours a day.
She and my uncle hired Diane, Jenny, Jeanette and Kim to tend to his needs. He suffered from dementia near the end of his life and hardly recognized his granddaughters, but as soon as one of his caregivers walked into the room, he would break out into a big smile.
Jeanette used to take him on field trips to her home and to get ice cream. It was reassuring to hear that that he was still able to enjoy his life instead of sitting around in his house all day.
My Maw Maw lived in Mississippi her entire life. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with vascular dementia.
For a while after her diagnosis, she remembered the names of her family members and still looked like Maw Maw.
But, the disease worked quite quickly and soon she couldn’t recognize any of us or talk clearly. She lost an enormous amount of weight. Maw Maw wasn’t the same woman we knew and loved anymore.
Darlene cared for my Maw Maw. During a visit, I watched my Maw Maw’s eyes follow Darlene all over the room.
In a world that had become chaotic and terrifying to my Maw Maw, I knew she felt safe in Darlene’s home.
When she was with Darlene, I didn’t worry about her well-being.
Caregivers are just as important as the person and family members experiencing the effects of a chronic illness. We should also support them.
I thank God every day for the caregivers who shared their love and devotion with my family members.

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