From the heart of a caregiver – Thank you

After a long absence I became inspired today to write from the heart

Some know, some may not know that I have a special grandchild who has a rare genetic disorder emanuelawarenessand from her birth in 1995 her life changed mine and her family’s.  From the day she was born it has been a daily weekly monthly challenge for her parents to get her the best care, to understand what is changing in her condition and to give her the best life possible.

Yesterday marked my granddaughter’s 20th birthday.  It is indeed a milestone because in this past year she has been placed in a local long term group home – if she was a senior it would be called Long Term Care.  It is indeed long term care as her daily needs for the rest of her life mean she needs round the clock care, medical support and that is more than the average caregiver or parent can do.

They say anyone can be a caregiver.  It is an important job.  It is True that Anyone can be a caregiver but it is vitally important that each caregiver not only goes through the motions of the job, bathing, dressing, feeding, giving medications, getting up to attend to someone in the middle of the night, making meals, washing clothes, thinking ahead and planning outings, and preparing everything needed, but that they also have a passion and an empathy for those they care for.

As a family caregiver (as well as working as a Personal Support Worker in nursing homes) it has been very hard for me to let go.  I helped support my granddaughter a lot over the past few years.  It was and is the hardest job anyone can do.  Her family did it well – but it takes a lot to do round the clock care as well as work, raise a family, keep a home going…and I was glad to be able to add some support.

Since my granddaughter’s placement in 2014 – it has been very hard for me to see her in the care of others.  Although her caregivers are wonderful, warm, affectionate and inclusive to all their charges it was still hard for me to see my own family member in their care.  When it is your own loved one it is hard to let go.

Until yesterday….

It was my granddaughters 20th birthday.  Another resident in her group home also had a birthday two days earlier.  I was so impressed that the whole decor was changed and individual for each person.  Both she and the other party girl this week were given total focus for their day! And they each get total focus for their care and support each day.

My granddaughter is developmentally delayed and non-verbal.  She can express certain wishes and feelings by the sounds and responses she makes to those around her. It takes thoughtfulness and patience to understand what she wants or needs.

It meant the world to me (and the family) that the staff at the group home, knowing that my granddaughter was and is totally in love with the Movie “Frozen”, totally in love with Olaf the snowman, totally in love with the music, the scenes, everything about it……decorated the whole living space with balloons, an Olaf Pinata! a tablecloth with Frozen characters all over it MaiaOlaf20

My granddaughter was Princess for the day.  She loved it, she soaked it up, she kissed and waved at everyone.  Her excitement vibrated from her body and I mean that sincerely.  She had a memorable day from start to finish and was exhausted by the outpouring of love, affection, gifts, a cake with candles, a special card and gifts from the staff of her home – just so many ways they made her day special.

Truth be told she is treated like a Princess every day.

Everyone gets attention, no one is excluded or left in a corner.  They are spoken to, touched, hugged, fussed over and loved in the way that family cannot continue to give for years and years.

This is what Caregiving is about.  This is what everyone deserves – and I am including every Senior, every person with Special Needs, everyone who cannot speak for themselves.

I woke up today realizing that I can let go a bit more.  I can still love her, still visit her, but still know that when I am not present, when her family is not present – that she is getting the best care possible.

This is what I want for everyone.  Reassurance is important for not only the person needing care, but for their family and friends.

So from my heart to the hearts of each caregiver who gives their precious time away from their family and friends to care for my family member and others…

Thank you!  It means the world!