What would happen if The Unthinkable blindsided you, requiring everything be put on hold to become a full time caregiver for a loved one? At the very least, it would reshape your life. Without a survival guide, it could even destroy it. Barb Owen delivers precisely that survival guide in NORMAL Doesn't Live Here Anymore: An Inspiring Story of Hope for Caregivers
. She weaves a story, based on her life-changing experience as primary caregiver for her elderly parents. Following each chapter a bit of wisdom gained from Barb's experience is summarized as a Reflection. The third part of NORMAL Doesn't Live Here Anymore
addresses the critical need for self-care for the new and seasoned caregiver alike. Specific suggestions abound for Me Time--how to find it--what to do with it--and how very important it is for sustaining oneself throughout the often arduous caregiving-marathon. This truly inspiring book is one part parable, one part autobiography and all survival guide, illuminating a path for the more than 65 million caregiving Americans. "Everything hinges on your ability to care for both yourself and your loved one," says Owen. "This maxim is of great consequence--heed it, and you will endure. Dismiss it, and you will have trouble surviving. Take care of yourself, your loved one and keep the faith, because you're not alone."
EXCERPT FROM: NORMAL Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Chapter 21; The morning after I brought my 90-year-old Dad home from the hospital, Mom called me to say that he was not feeling at all well. My nagging intuition insisted that I visit Dad and spend some private time with him. Finding Dad awake and resting in his bed, I struggled to find my voice. Sitting beside him, I asked, "How are you feeling this morning?" "Oh, I'm so-so," he sighed, as a tear rolled from his eye on to the pillow that cradled his head. "Really tired of all of this and worried about your mother. She's having a hard time with everything." We stayed there in silence--just being together for a few moments. Holding his hand, the heavy words finally left my mouth. "You know, Dad, you can trust me to be sure that Mom is okay. I will take care of her, no matter what." He responded quietly, "I know." Studying and caressing my dad's hand, I knew there was one more important conversation that the voice in my heart insisted upon. "Dad, I know that this is getting to be really tough for you. If staying here becomes too hard, it's okay to let go..." During the following few weeks I watched my 89 year old Mom experience a renewed sense of purpose and increased strength as she doted on my dad and met his needs, as best she could. Some days were better than others. Most nights were difficult when Dad's heart pain was significantly worse and his level of anxiety escalated. Often my mom would pass the hours by reading to Dad. Although her eyesight was clouding, she still managed to read the newspaper, column by column, or inspirational short stories she found in the stack of magazines beside their bed. Amazingly, dawn nearly always brought ease and comfort for them both. And so the nights and days continued...
Difficult subjects sometimes need to be discussed. You might be asked by others to deliver bad news--news of someone's death, a life-altering diagnosis, or even the necessity for a change in residence. Each conversation carries the potential for unleashed emotions. My advice? No matter how difficult or emotional, don't leave words left unsaid. People, if capable of understanding, deserve information. Often, they are much stronger than we realize. Words are powerful. They carry courage, condemnation, reassurance or permission. Choose them wisely as your words may be the ones that bring freedom from pain or suffering. It's tough, but I know you can do it and if you listen to that voice inside, you will know exactly the right time and the right words. Be Strong!