“She heroically cared for her mother.” “He is a real hero in the way he’s caring for his wife.” I’ve heard many versions of this sentiment referring to someone in the caregiving role as a “hero.”
While the person commenting means to give the caregiver a compliment, the term “hero” can unintentionally pressure mere mortal caregivers
to be superheroes.
Here are five reasons why caregivers should not strive to be heroes:
Heroes are super-human.
Caregivers are not. Caregivers are simply human beings doing their best to take care of someone they love who is injured, ill or disabled. They don’t possess the super powers or mystical abilities of a superhero.
Caregivers sometimes wish they did have super powers but it’s important for those of us who support them to acknowledge that they don’t have a magic wand to fix all of their loved one’s problems.
Heroes tend to have no social life.
The Fox Television show “Gotham” depicts a teenage Bruce Wayne training for his future as Batman rather than playing sports, video games or just hanging out with friends.
While heroes like Bruce Wayne don’t socialize much, caregivers who want to be physically and mentally healthy should. Socializing, taking breaks and not isolating oneself are essential for a caregiver to remain as healthy as possible so he or she can maintain the caregiving role.
Heroes don’t always collaborate well.
Heroes often have difficulty admitting when they need help. For example, Superman tends to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.
While many caregivers struggle with asking for and accepting help, especially initially, it is absolutely essential for the caregiver’s well being. No caregiver should exist in a vacuum. The primary caregiver needs to be the captain of the ship with plenty of first mates.
Heroes are invulnerable.
The DC Comics’ website cites invulnerability as a superpower possessed by both Wonder Woman and Superman. I have never met a caregiver who wasn’t vulnerable.
Caregivers give their money, energy and time to care for a loved one, often expecting nothing or very little in return. They are frequently criticized by others in the family for “not doing it right.” They are also quite vulnerable to physical and mental health conditions when they don’t get help with their caregiving duties.
Heroes are secretive and lonely.
Heroes can’t be themselves all the time. Most superheroes are dressing up in costumes and hiding their true identities. Very fewpeople know the real person behind the hero façade. Caregivers whose costumes include acting like they always have everything together are typically falling apart behind closed doors.
Aim to be a real-life, human, good-enough caregiver. Maintain relationships.
Socialize. Have realistic expectations of yourself. And most importantly, ask for help. Stop trying to be a hero — it’s impossible and unnecessary.
Jennifer L. FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), the founder of Jenerations Health, is the author of “Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One.” To download a free chapter, go to www.cruisingthroughcaregiving.com.
MEDICARE UPDATE AND MEDICARE BENEFITS CHECKUP
· Are you New to Medicare or the caregiver for a Medicare beneficiary?
· Are you paying too much for prescription medications?
· Are you on the right Medicare Part D prescription plan?
Medicare Counselors from the Division of Aging and Adult Services, and Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program can help.
Learn the basics of Medicare coverage and choices and get a personalized benefits checkup.
Time: Noon – 1:30 p.m. – Medicare Updates
2 – 5 p.m. – Part D Enrollment Assistance
Location: Beatley Library, 5005 Duke St.
Registration required: Call 703-7465999 or email DAAS@alexandriava.gov.
The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. To request a reasonable accommodation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 571384-5244.
March 19, 21 & 29
VOLUNTEER ADVOCATES NEEDED IN ALEXANDRIA
The Northern Virginia Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is looking for people who are empathetic, diplomatic, assertive and skilled communicators to be volunteer ombudsmen.
As an ombudsman you will be assigned to visit a local nursing or assisted living facility, working to ensure that residents’ rights are being protected and helping residents with problems that they are unable to resolve alone. Volunteer ombudsmen must volunteer four hours per week for one year. Visits must occur between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Ongoing training and support provided. The next initial three-day training will be March 19, 21 and 29, 2018. Plus save the date of April 2, 2018.
For more information: Call 703-324-5861 or visit www.fairfaxcounty.