Tough Decisions in Caregiving
I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to share what I learned over the fifteen years of caring for my mother, my precious Mama.
As a caregiver, there are constant decisions that must be made and many, if not most, are tough ones. Relying upon God is so important when making these decisions for they affect a loved one, ourselves, and often others in the family. If you are the one to make such a decision for someone who has lost the ability to do so for him or her self, truly turn it over to God. Don’t try to go this alone. Sharing your concerns with a spouse, a grown daughter or son, a brother or sister, (depending upon whom you are caring for) may be a step in the right direction, but sharing it with the LORD is the way to get His dependable answer. He will direct the path intended for all concerned.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6
Praying is the key, a must. The quiet time we spend with God in prayer is precious time. God can reveal His plan to our still, calm, and quiet body, mind, heart, and soul. God is our Stronghold, Tower, and Refuge. Ask Him questions. Share your feelings. Tell Him your frustrations and struggles. But be quiet, cease striving, and know that He is God of all, including you and the one you care.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
Once His guidance is clear to you, it is time to move forward. Whatever decisions need to be made particular to your case, you are not alone for God is walking with you. You may need to research the assisted living or nursing home facilities in town. Maybe you have to go to the state office where Medicaid is handled. You might need to seek the advice of an eldercare financial planner or attorney for the procedure to shelter some of the income if one spouse must go into a nursing home while the other one must continue to be able to live comfortably, or you may need their advice to qualify your care recipient for Medicaid. There might be a shift in medication with new side affects so making an appointment with the doctor to discuss these changes may give you reassurance of the physical or mental safety for your loved one. Possibly, you might choose to search out those side effects by looking online at Physician’s Desk Reference (PDRhealth) or read those tiny words on that thin paper attached to the medication. If you are working, you probably need to find out about the Family Medical Leave Act, how and when you can take time off to help your parent, child, or husband without being afraid of losing your job. These are but a few of the many issues that can creep up and lead to caregiver overwhelm. Take each one to the LORD and then, with the LORD, you can move ahead one step at a time.
Breathe in God-peace as you take each step. Absorb God-love into your very heart. Feel God-comfort as He wraps His arms around you. You need and deserve these God-wrapped gifts; so does your loved one. As you walk in His will, He is with you.
A dear one in my life was caring for her husband with Alzheimer’s disease. His mental abilities were diminishing quite rapidly and decisions were needing to be made, one after another. This dear one, his wife, had been caring for him alone since the diagnosis, but the ground seemed to be moving faster than she was able to keep a steady gait. His behaviors, his memory-loss, and more had left her worried about his safety and the safety of others as he crossed their paths. Her stress level increased daily, thus increasing her own health concerns.
She went to the LORD. She spent time looking at local facilities that would take an Alzheimer patient. She had her daughter go with her to the ones that were the choices she would make if and when she needed to place her husband in one. Then fears arose: how would others perceive her if she placed her husband in a nursing home? Would they consider her a failure in her wifely duties? Was she not strong enough to do this job even though she seemed able? What about the cost? Could she afford this? Would she need to create a trust for the money issues? Where would she get that legal help? Was her husband eligible for Veterans benefits since he served in World War II? All those “what if” questions crept into her heart and mind and did not seem to vanish. Both she and her daughter went to the LORD on the husband/father’s behalf. The LORD strengthened them, giving answers to these many questions as each one arose. When the time came, she filled out one application to a special care nursing home. She received a “go-ahead,” but at the last minute, the door closed. She applied to a second facility. They required her husband to be admitted to a psychiatric ward for evaluation for which she was willing. After a week in the hospital, after a number of issues were resolved, her husband was able to be placed in the second facility. Proper medication had been determined while in the hospital, and his adjustment to the medications and the facility began to smooth out. God was with them. The place and the timing were His. The whole family agreed that the right thing was done. And the wife had relinquished her guilt and burdens to the only One Who could carry them.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Making such decisions are stress-filled and can leave the caregiver exhausted and spent. Plus, the physical strain of being on duty 24/7 if living with the care recipient, as well as the emotional roller coaster ride, take their toll on the caregiver’s body, mind, and life. For this dear one, the strain of carrying these many concerns along with giving care to her husband was wearing her down faster than the Alzheimer’s was taking him. She needed help. And her help was in her LORD.
In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears. Psalm 18:6
Father, as we come to these cliffs of decision, we may find that we must jump or back up and wait. LORD, we pray for Your Fatherly guidance. We ask that You lead us, holding us near to You. May our physical ears and heart-ears be open to hear You. May we be willing to leap forward into Your loving and secure arms or wait with the patience You give us. Thank You for loving us through these tough decisions and for reassuring us that, with You, nothing is impossible. You are our Ever-Present God, our All-Knowing LORD. You deserve our worship and our praise. We fall before You on bended knees and lift our voices to You in awe, knowing that You already know how it is all to work out. Your plan is perfect. Thank You, Abba Father. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.