Feeling Old in the New Year

Feeling Old in the New Year

It’s no wonder that caregiving ages a person. Many caregivers mimic the activities of the person for whom they care. We walk slower, speak slowly and clearly to get our point across, and fall into routines that keep our loved one stable.

When I was in the throes of caring for Hugh after his TBI, my life stopped for a few years until I gradually grabbed bits of it back. There were times I felt bitter watching others go about their busy lives. Watching friends throw parties, enjoy spontaneous get-togethers and nights out made me feel old before my time because while they were out having fun, I remained home worrying about my husband and the bills. I had nowhere to go with that bitterness. Accidents happen, and Hugh’s injury was caused by an accident. Being angry with the woman who ran over him didn’t make me feel any better—it made me feel worse.

The New Year saturates us with advice about how to be healthier, happier, and better in every way. For caregivers, this advice rings hollow. It can make you want to yell out, “How about changing places with me for awhile so I can go to the gym and out to lunch.” And after thinking thoughts like that, the inevitable guilt seeps in. The guilt you feel for wanting your old life back—for wanting the freedom to do as you please day after day.

I’d love to tell someone who is going through these feelings that there’s a magic fix, but there isn’t. What I can share with people who are new at caregiving is that these feelings are normal and healthy. What’s not normal is the chaos caused by the injury that just robbed you and your loved one of your life—but that will change, too, in time.

So my New Year’s wish for you is to be gentle with yourself. Sulk a little, and wallow in what you have lost, but then stop and believe that in time you will enjoy life again. Take a deep breath and keep doing the good work you are doing. It won’t be for naught. Providing loving care is never time wasted. Embrace your role and know it is a stepping-stone to a better tomorrow.

Comments (6)

sometimes i feel i am in the middle of the ocean without a life jacket trying to hold my son up and keep him safe. he had a roll over accident 2 years ago and he has been in and out of rehab and nursing homes. i stayed with him, slept in what ever i could find, i brought him home too. now it has been 5 months. sometimes i feel like i cant put one foot in front of the other but i am so glad to care for him at home. he has anger problems and confusion. he is very strong. i pray i can take care of him

Reflections, reflections, reflections... on the past. What once was is no more... never will be despite one's effort to rekindle the past... understand Rosemary, this is a universal human condition, TBI, no TBI. Human nature to yearn for that which is past, just a memory. "Oh, if I could bring back that moment," one may opine. Forget it, the moment is always, "just the way it should be."

Life's journey is filled with moments to reflect on... be careful on the composite picture... it be "Just Right!!!"

Art

Rosemary,

It happened just the way it was suppose to. Hugh's injury highlights the good, the bad, an even the ugly... you receive all the garnishments in one... make salad, make stew, for it is all up to you... now!!! 

Art

Dear Pat C, Your story tugged at my heart. Caregiving can be a lonely job. I hope the connections you make on BrainLine help to ease that loneliness or at least give you a sense that there are others out there  who understand. I wish you well. Rosemary

Well, in my case, both my husband and son had a TBi or whatever it's called these days. My husband who taught English at a local college, lost his last six years of teaching and, therefore, his share of money going into TIAA-CREF. Our son, who was 18, had a skiing accident with a two and a half month coma and recovered to an extent. He was able to hold a job for 20 years, but with subsequent seizures, for one reason or another (he's on tegretol) he took early retirement and is on SS disability. He still lives with us and seems to be getting Alzheimers. He's now 52. So I don't see any future for myself apart from him. I have two supportive  daughters who live locally, but who have children and in one case grandchildren, so are kept very busy themselves. Thanks for listening.

Pat C

Nicely put!  Brings encouragement and hope in what can be a difficult time.