Sacrifice, Sabotage, Surrender

By Cate McCarty

As a caregiver I find myself giving up many things for the diagnosis, for Mike. They are sacrifices and often self-sabotaging.

Sometimes I do this without realizing it, in a humble and resilient manner. Other times, I do it noisily in a self-harming manner. As we enter a season that many classify as one of self-reflection and sacrifice, I encourage each of us to look closely at what is being sacrificed and sabotaged.

In my four decades of working with dementia and caregiving–I have seen alot of sacrifice that was sabotage. Spouses who refuse to reach out for help because they think they can do it best. As they struggle to do it alone, they are saving money, but losing themselves. Perhaps they promised to do it a certain way. Perhaps it is financial fear that keeps them from hiring a helper, using a day center, taking respite. What seems like a reasonable argument for doing it yourself ends up taking far more resources later.
Unfortunately the statistics show that while we may save money today, we may also need more advanced healthcare ourselves as a result of today’s sacrifice. We are sabotaging the future by not accepting help now.

We all imagine we will be the one burying our loved one from this disease. But will our inability to access care today have us joining him/her sooner than necessary?

Questions to consider:
Are my financial decisions today directed from a place of sacrifice or self-care?

Do I find myself choosing a direction because I think I can suffer through until the end, then I can start to care for myself?

Are my loved one’s needs and desires more important than mine because of his diagnosis?

These are tough questions that I am learning to ask myself.

I know many caregivers who stayed healthy despite their loved one’s diagnosis. They had one thing in common—they accessed help. They knew when to surrender and seek counsel.

Dementia, like all disease, calls for specialized care. Whether it is a dementia coach, a memory care specialist, an agency trained in specialized care–there are many resources.

When do I know it is time to call a specialist–the minute you sacrifice your self care, your health, your growth.
I coach numerous individuals who are living with a loved one with a dementia diagnosis—and I am coached.
Help is just a phone call or email or text away. Broaden your focus to include yourself.

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