108: Mindful Caregiving: What exactly is a caregiver?

May 03, 2023 00:28:37
108: Mindful Caregiving: What exactly is a caregiver?
Breathe In, Breathe Out with Krystal Jakosky
108: Mindful Caregiving: What exactly is a caregiver?

May 03 2023 | 00:28:37


Hosted By

Krystal Jakosky

Show Notes

After my mom's diagnosis, I found myself diving deep into what caregiving means. Caregiving extends beyond the medical field and is a role many of us take on in various aspects of our lives – as parents, friends, and even as support. Caregiving is about attending to the needs of others who may not be fully independent, and as caregivers, it is crucial that we prioritize self-care to ensure that we are able to give our best selves to those who rely on us.⁠

Self-Care is essential to being a caregiver and is a conscious and intentional act aimed at taking care of our own needs. When we care for ourselves and fill our cups first, we are better equipped to support and care for others around us. ⁠

FIRST TIME HERE? Hey, there! I’m Krystal Jakosky - a teacher, writer, and transformational life coach based in CO. I release weekly podcasts about self-care, hard truths, journaling, meditation, and radical self-ownership. All are wholeheartedly welcome here. 

LET’S CONNECT! Visit my website and visit me on InstagramFacebook, YouTube!

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:03 Think meditation is hard. Do me a favor, take a slow deep breath in and now breathe out. Congratulations, you just meditated. Speaker 1 00:00:15 Hey y'all, this is Crystal Kowski and thank you, thank you, thank you for being here. The only constant in life is change. And sometimes we like those changes. Other times we're really frustrated with them. Reality is change gives us an opportunity to grow. It gives us an opportunity to look at where we're at and what we want to improve, what we want to make better, and how, how we're sitting in our own life. Recently I had a change that was overwhelming and challenging. My mother was diagnosed with Lew body dementia and any of you who are familiar with it, I love you and thank you for your support and any who aren't. It's a scary and overwhelming ugly disease under the dementia umbrella. My podcast is all about mindfulness and meditation, and I've decided to start within, breathe and breathe out a series that is on mindful caregiving because of my own experience and how I am learning and growing. So I welcome you to the next episode of Mindful Caregiving. Speaker 1 00:01:35 Hello and welcome back to Breathe In. Breathe Out. I'm Crystal Jacobowsky and I'm your host. And um, as always, I'm really delighted that you're here. I'm grateful that you're here. I am, I am grateful for podcasting and the opportunity that it gives me. I've been going through some personal issues, personal challenges, trying to, um, just wrap my arms around, uh, life <laugh> and the ups and downs that seemed to come. Uh, not too long ago. I let you guys know that my mom had received a diagnosis that meant that I would become a caregiver and that life would change. And this has really <laugh>, it threw me for a loop and I did not expect it to be so overwhelming. I've kind of been dealing with working and taking care of her for the last five years. Gradually a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more. Speaker 1 00:02:44 But I hadn't acknowledged or verbally embraced the idea of a caregiver being her caregiver because in my brain a caregiver was like assisted living and um, uh, home health people, uh, nursing homes, adult daycare centers, that kind of thing. Like my brain had caregiver as someone who changed diapers and cooked and really helped with the day-to-day life of somebody else. And I did not believe that I was a quote unquote caregiver. And knowing that things were going to change, I signed up for a class and it was called Savvy Caregiver. And the teacher was unbelievably fantastic. I highly recommend it for anyone who is dealing with aging people. Um, and in this class there was this interesting shift for me, a mental shift for me, and I'm bringing it up here because I really think that it's a shift we could all benefit from. I think it's a shift that we could all use. Speaker 1 00:03:50 So here we go down a little bit of a rabbit hole on my behalf, but yet I hope and pray that I can extend that to your behalf and that you can also learn and grow and have a similar shift in a very healthy, positive way. So my question for you is, what is a caregiver? What is your definition of a caregiver? I mean, seriously, do you have the same idea that I did that a caregiver is someone who is giving up all of their time to take care of the daily needs of another person? Or do you have a more well-rounded definition of a caregiver? When I was a young mother and I was frustrated and struggling and somebody introduced me to the idea that just because I'm a mom, I was a mom and I was working outside the house and I was feeling overwhelmed and struggling and I would go through emotional breakdowns and all sorts of stuff, just really trying to survive on a daily basis. Speaker 1 00:05:04 And someone I was talking with a friend at one point and they said to me, you know, crystal, you are, you're a mom. And there's so much more to being a mom than just being a mom. And I want to extend this to any, any parent that it, that takes that immediate caregiving role. Because when you are that person that is dealing with most of the day in day outs of the kids, that means that you are a nurse, you are a chef, you are a maid, you are a psychologist. Think of all of the things, all of the professions that you need to have some kind of knowledge of in order to run that household. An accountant to run, you know, the bills, what needs to be paid and when and all that fun stuff. And it made me realize that being a mom, being a parent was like, there's just more to it. Speaker 1 00:06:08 And I could give myself a little bit of a break because not only was I doing all of these things for my family, I was holding down a job, which meant that there was less time to do all of the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning and the homework and everything else that came up onto it. Which meant that if I was doing all of those professions all of the time, well duh, I'm not gonna have all the time in the world. I am not going to be able to be a supermom and have a clean house at all times. Everything picked up, spotless, perfect clean toilets, uh, no laundry cuz it's all done and magically folded and put away because the laundry fairy happened to show up. Like giving myself a break at that time because I had been married for several years and I had had multiple emotional breakdowns and I had really, um, burned out. Speaker 1 00:07:12 I can't tell you how many times trying to embody this perfect vision that I had in my brain about who I was supposed to be as this wife and this mother and how I was supposed to keep up appearances to everyone else. So I was a mom and that meant that that's what you know, I was, I was a caregiver in that way. I was constantly sacrificing my own self for the wellbeing of my kids and my husband. And that is where I first learned the importance of self-care. When I finally stood up and said, I can't do this marriage anymore and I need to change some things because quite frankly it's running me into the ground and I need more support that I'm getting. Uh, when I finally put myself first, it was really, uh, a little bit traumatizing to both myself and my family because they were not used to me choosing to put myself first. Speaker 1 00:08:09 And yet it was a requirement because I was my health. I was not doing well mentally, physically, emotionally. I was, I was crashing on so many levels and it was this constant up and down right? So I learned then that I needed to be a care that, uh, self, a caregiver of myself, meaning that I needed to take care of me. And that is where I came up with my definition of self-care, which is a conscious and intentional act aimed towards taking care of your own needs. So I felt like I had really learned this lesson, the importance of self-care. And I've done a really good job and I have taught a lot of people all about self-care and how to put themselves higher on their priority list. And I've helped people change their own lives because they've realized that holy crap, I'm actually worth it. I'm a finite resource and if I use all my resource up, then what's left? There's nothing left. I can't drive, I can't make lunch, I can't function because I am so ground into the ground. You're right, self-care is important. So I thought that I had learned this lesson and I've told you guys that I believe that we have to live it if we're going to teach it. And I lived it. So I teach it. Speaker 1 00:09:41 But then this caregiver thing came around and being the caregiver to my mom, damn, I kept denying I am not a caregiver. I'm not a caregiver, I'm not a caregiver until this class. And in this class there was this one slide that she shared and she said, Speaker 1 00:10:07 As a person who gives care to another person, are you ever a liaison with professionals? Are you ever the family council? Are you ever the decision maker? Are you the safety officer making sure that everybody's okay and that there aren't trip hazards or whatnot? Are you the behavior manager making sure that they don't act inappropriately in public and whatnot or towards yourself? Are you a nurse making sure that they are physically okay, taking them to doctor's appointments? Are you the one who makes sure that they get those doctor's appointments? Are you a handyman? Are you a diplomat social director? Are you over their finances? Do you cook for them at all? Are you a maid or a LARAs in any way, shape or form? Are you a guardian? When I looked at this list, it was a gut punch for me in that moment because I realized that all but three or four of them are professions that I have employed on behalf of my mom over the last five years. Speaker 1 00:11:32 And knowing what I'm facing and what will happen on the progression of this disease, she will not get better. It is a guarantee that she will only continue to decline, which means I will be even more of a caregiver. And guess what, if I don't increase my self-care, then being a caregiver for this other person means that they suffer. If I'm tired and exhausted and emotional, I am not as able to be the family counselor. I am not as able to be a handyman or a chef on her behalf. Literally in this I am learning on a grassroots level. If I do not increase my self care, then the person that needs me the most suffers. So what's the definition of a self of a caregiver? You can look all over the internet and you're gonna find a ton of different answers to this question, but the APA dictionary of psychology, the American Psychologist Association Dictionary states, a caregiver is a person who attends to the needs of and provides assistance to someone else who is not fully independent, such as an infant or a sick adult or a friend. A person who does majority of the work is called the primary caregiver. So there is a caregiver, there is a primary caregiver, someone who attends to the needs of and provides assistance to someone who is not fully independent. That means that when you are helping a friend by doing some laundry or taking some food in, you are a caregiver. Speaker 1 00:13:47 You are caring for someone who is not fully independent because they themselves need to give themselves some self care. They're not fully independent. That means when you run an errand on behalf of someone else, that means when you're taking care of the kids, that means any parent that is attending to the needs of a child is a caregiver. And if you're a caregiver, that means that you are giving out all the time. On some level you're concerned about their wellbeing. You they're on your mind. I wonder if they're okay, do they need anything? Oh, that noise lets me know that they need some help. I gotta go help. Speaker 1 00:14:36 Whether it's in your personal life, in your family life, in your work life, in whatever it is, if you are attending to somebody else's needs, because in that moment they are not fully independent, you are a caregiver and their care suffers if you do not take care of yourself first. If you are not a hundred percent, if your cup is not completely full, if you are not solidly confident and whole in your mental, physical, emotional, spiritual self, you have not got the additional need to give out to someone else. It just doesn't work. Sure you can pour out, but if there's not very much in your cup in the first place, you're just gonna drain yourself. And where does that leave you when you don't have anything left to give? Now people have talked about this forever and ever, and there's the, the the the example of the water of pitcher. Speaker 1 00:15:48 And you can't put more water into somebody's cup. You can't water the plant, you can't this and that. It's been said time and time again. And for some reason in this moment there is this shift in my brain because I thought caregiver was men. It was medical. It was only in the medical aspect of things that a caregiver is someone who needs to take care of themselves more. And that's not to say that I don't need self-care because I absolutely need self-care on a day-to-day basis because we're constantly living life and we're doing and functioning right. So we have to balance out the have-tos and the want tos. We have to find things that bring us joy so that we can be, uh, living a better life, living the life that we truly want to live. And yet in my brain, when I had this switch and this understanding that every single one of us is a caretaker, a caregiver in some way, shape or form in my definition of a caregiver, before my heart went out to the people who gave my heart, went out to all of those medical professionals that that could deal with these patients and these clients. Speaker 1 00:17:14 My heart went out to the death doulas, to the nurses, to the CNAs, everyone who has so much extra compassion for the people here in this wi in this life. And I was like, wow, that that is an amazing person. That is. They keep giving. It wasn't that I necessarily had them on a pedestal, but it was absolutely like they deserve more compassion and self-care and I really hope that they're giving that to themselves. I wonder how mu how many of us do this? I wonder how many of us look at someone else and say, wow, they give a lot and we ourselves are giving a lot, but we don't give ourselves that latitude. We don't give ourselves that permission. We don't acknowledge that we too need that compassion and that support. We see somebody who is giving a lot and we're like, Hey, you know, I wanna, I wanna help you. I wanna ease your burden. How can I help you? But when we're the ones giving, when we're the ones supporting someone else, do we give ourselves that same compassion? Do we acknowledge that we too need the support that we too need the break that we too deserve and are worthy of receiving care? Speaker 1 00:19:03 Whether that's care that you have chosen or care that somebody else is offering because they recognize that you need in that moment. Where are you on that priority list and why are you any different than the next person who is also giving and struggling? Why are you not allowed to ask for help? Why are you not allowed to take a nap? Why are you not allowed to crash on the couch and just stare at your phone for an hour because of what you've just been through? Why do you hold yourself to a higher standard than you hold anybody else to? How is that fair? Speaker 1 00:20:06 Why do you have to be more? And at what point will that change? At what point will you be kinder to yourself the the statement of do unto others as you would have do unto you this crazy, do unto others as you would have done unto you? Well, how are you treating yourself? Because you are showing everybody else how to treat you. You are invalidating your worth, you're invalidating your value. You are invalidating the gift that you are giving to this world by being present and caring and loving and supporting those people that you care for. Why are you any less? And I ask this of you because in the same aspect I am asking myself the very same questions. Why am I not allowed to struggle? Why am I not allowed to be tired? Why am I not allowed to cry? Why am I not allowed to share my difficulty? Why do I have to hide that? Why do I have to hide my tears or my anger or my frustration? And the answer is I don't. Just like I'm telling you right now, you don't. You don't have to hide it. And you are beyond worthy and yet you are the only one that convi can convince yourself of that fact. You are the only one that can flip that switch in your brain from one that says, I'm not a caregiver. I'm not giving out that much to holy shit. Look at what I do. Give, look. Look at what I do do. I am a caregiver and if I'm giving care out, I sure the hell better be bringing care in. Speaker 1 00:23:04 If you are remotely wondering whether or not you are a caregiver, I encourage you to get a journal and write down anything you've done in the last week that has been of service and support to someone else. If you're a parent, it's gonna be a long fucking list. Anyone that has love and compassion for their friends and for others is going to have a long fucking list. And if you are giving that care out, it is beyond paramount. It is beyond important for you to be giving the same to you. I'm working on it. I'm reaching out to friends, I'm letting people know what I'm going through. And I've touched base with a counselor who is specialized in what I will be going through. A counselor who works with caregivers specifically, who deal with what I will deal with. Speaker 1 00:24:20 I'm seeking that help. I'm seeking that support and I feel better because seeking that out means that I am giving myself the care and the love and the support that I need. It's a real life thing. It's raw, it's challenging some moments. I am great. In fact, I made lunch today and I was really proud of myself, <laugh> cuz it wasn't just heat meat. I literally chopped vegetables and boiled pasta and made a cream sauce and had some delicious vegetable pasta for lunch. That's a big deal. I had to pat myself on the back for that because there have been days that I haven't wanted to cook. It's too much effort. Haven't wanted to do the laundry. It's too much effort. Okay, that's all right. I don't have to, I've still got underwear that's clean <laugh>. I still have other clothes to wear. I don't have to do laundry just yet. Speaker 1 00:25:30 I can give myself a little break. I can give myself a little extra love, a little extra support, a little extra boost. And I hope you can do the same. I hope that in sharing my story and letting you know where I'm at and what I'm struggling with a little bit helps to give you permission, helps you realize that you're not alone and that it's okay if that lady over there who happens to be a life coach and teaches people how to own their shit and is someone that people look up to is struggling and having a human time and needs added self-care, well then by George, it's fine for you to do the same thing. Speaker 1 00:26:22 I really thank you for listening. I thank you for coming along on my journey and I really hope that you have the same kind of mental shift that I did. That in acknowledging the care, acknowledging the efforts that go out that are symbolically, that water being poured out of the picture needs to be replaced, needs to be filled back up so that you can function with day-to-day life. I wish you the best. I send you hope, I send you love, I send you support, and I send you encouragement. And I truly sincerely pray that you dive in and find any of the support that you need, whether that be professional or just a little personal boost. And in the meantime, while I'm sending you out all that love and joy, I'm gonna thank you for yours as well. I might go take a bath and eat some ice cream and you know, I'll see you again here next week on Breathe In. Breathe Out. I hope this moment of self-care and healing brought you some hope and peace. I'm Crystal Dukowski on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, and I hope you check us out and follow along for more content coming soon. I look forward to being with you again here on Breathe In. Breathe out. Until next time, take care.

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