I was doing some research and preparation for the next live talk in my educational series and I stumbled across the term- Lone Soldier Syndrome. I hadn’t heard this term used for describing family caregivers before. It describes Family Caregivers as being such “troopers’, taking on responsibilities, marching forward and getting things done. How they often assume multiple roles and duties, doing for others while putting their own needs to the side. Oh…and rarely asking for assistance along the way! Unfortunately, this can leave many pretty badly wounded and not much good to anyone.
Just this past Sunday, my cousin Sue recalled some of her own caregiving stories since losing her Mother (my sweet Aunt Sandy) to a devastating stroke just 3 weeks ago. She described what they had gone through over the last few years as a “battle”; managing several health issues including cancer, infections, impaired mobility, hospitalizations and most recently dementia. Together with her Father, she felt as if they were “warriors” who had just gone through battle together and were coming out the other side with her passing.
This really hit home for me. How this Lone Soldier syndrome has the very real potential to occur. In reality, it takes a “troop” to provide care to our loved ones. It takes getting support while acknowledging and accepting your emotions and feelings. It’s about taking time to rest and recharge as you take good care of yourself and engage in meaningful activities. It’s as important to be proactive, prepared and planning ahead to avoid a crisis from erupting.
You see, even soldiers don’t serve alone! Find other caregivers, join support groups, seek out trusted professionals if you need to deal with the mountain of feelings you are experiencing. Confide in your closest friends and seek help from others who are offering to provide you with a break. Above all, dismiss the false belief that you are weak and not doing a good job because you are seeking support.
And so, my late Aunt Sandy, coupled with Sue’s caregiving journey...and ALL of your caregiving stories over the years, have inspired me to move forward with something that I have been considering for a long time. It is the “I-CARE Community” - a safe space for Caregivers to come to receive the support, education and resources they need to be the best they can be as a Caregiver. The community will include helpful caregiving tips, community resources, in person meet ups, monthly calls, opportunity for Q+A with a Care Navigator (ME!)…PLUS the mutual support of others who are on a similar journey as you.
Stay tuned for more details- you will want to be a part of this! Comment below if this interests you and I will be sure to follow up with you.
To learn more about support available for family caregivers, join our FREE Facebook Community, ICare at www.facebook.com/groups/theicarecommunity/. Until then, stay well.
Rest well, Sandy- love you xo