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The Role Of Being A Caregiver Is No Accident
The boomer generation is being faced with the major role of caring their parents, spouses and children today more than any other period in history. Some are caring for more than one person at a time. There are currently 54 million family caregivers today in the United States, alone as revealed in a study by the National Family Caregivers Association (www.NFACcares.org). One of the reasons longevity has increased is because of new medical discoveries and treatments available through modern medicine as well as alternative healing modalities. While the longevity of individuals has increased, their quality of life may not have improved. In the past many of your parents who may have both worked were forced to place their parents into nursing homes and facilities. However, today, many of the boomers are taking on the responsibility to keep their loved ones living in their own home or with them without having to place them.

I for one believe that we are not placed into our roles as caregivers by accident. There are so many lessons to learn. You learn to care better for yourselves...you learn to respect and work through incomplete issues with those you care for, but truly the most important lesson to learn is moving into forgiveness and opening to love.

Each of you has an opportunity to learn so much through the caregiving process if you can get out of the "why me" type role or your "victim" and perhaps glimpse at a bigger picture. Your parents may not have been in the position to nurture your own personal power as you were growing up. They weren't able to master their own. With caregiving, old patterns and belief systems or dynamics that existed for you as a child or young adult may come into play once again if they haven't been fully resolved. Some caregivers are faced with old issues of abandonment, verbal and physical abuse as well as sexual abuse. These past memories can cause you to care from a space of guilt, feeling responsible, needing approval and acceptance and a myriad of other reasons. It is important to get out the hurt, mixed feelings, and guilt so that you do not carry them into this new role. It is of the utmost importance that you let go in order to move forward. Adjusting to the new role reversal of parenting your parent requires that you understand much more than you may be aware of. No one can do this for you. You must do this healing for yourself to obtain your own inner peace and joy.

The Word "Try" or " Are you taking responsibility yet?" is so important for you to pay attention to. As a caregiver, you may find yourself taking on tremendous responsibilities and the pressures build, but you must seek out the tools to empower yourself so that you can make wise decisions for your well being as well as your loved ones, This means you must also be responsible for maintaining balance within your "self."

You are more than your physical body. You are spirit and spirit is eternal. Your loved one may have a deteriorating long-term illness, a disability or may be in "end-of-life stages" but their spirit still resides within their body. It is up to you to care for them and make sure others care for them with compassion and love.

Every day you have choices. There may not always appear to be many, but it is truly a matter of shifting your perceptions and opening yourselves to another way of being. Every day you are surrounded by blessings and miracles in the process. When you are caught up thinking in the past or in the future, fear, pain, hurt, worry and other negative emotions will control your life. When you are learning to live more fully in the present moment, you begin to accept and appreciate precious moments that may have gone by. Taking control and responsibility for your own life is an important realization that comes up when you are caring for someone in their final life stages. They are in your life to show you how to live your life more fully.

Life is not a destination...it is a journey...we are able to change so much of what we feel stuck in once we change our thoughts, our attitudes and beliefs. The role of the caregiver builds strength from within, compassion love. It tests our faith and for many we learn to develop trust and faith in a "Higher Power" that carries us through this experience. The caregiving experience is transformational if you open yourself to receiving all the rewards it offers.

Copyrighted by Gail R. Mitchell April 2000

Gail Mitchell
Empowering Caregivers

Ms. Mitchell is the President and Founder of NOFEC. Her full-time caregiving experience began in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dadís passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: www.care-givers.com in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

She presents at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

For a list of client and or her resume, please contact info@nofec.org

Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada.Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

E-mail: info@care-givers.com
Web Site: http://www.care-givers.com

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