Posted by Steve Jones
Wed, Jul 17, 2013
One time my family went out to the lake at our cottage. My daughter climbed onto this battery-powered floaty. She drove circles around us for hours. At one point she started to drive away from me. I thought I could swim fast enough to catch up to her. So I let her get about 10 yards away, and then I started to swim towards her. I realized that the speed of that device was about the same speed that I could swim and I couldn't catch up to her.
I swam as hard as I could until I had to quit. She had thought it was a game, and when she saw me quit she eventually stopped and turned around. But my heart was broken. I honestly thought that I had this 'Superhero Syndrome', that if my daughter's life was ever in danger, nothing could stop me from protecting her.
As a family member, when we're caring for someone we love, we honestly think, and we convince ourselves that we can take care of the ones we love. We tell ourselves things like, I can look after them; I can stay up all night with them at the hospital; I can feed them, care for them, lift and move them; I can do everything they need from me.
People naturally want to care for their families and they will try after grandpa is diagnosed with dementia or grandma ends up in the hospital after a serious fall. But you know what? We're all human. We're not superheroes. As the family caregivers, we have the best intentions and hugest of hearts, but we get tired, hurt or sick. We could get angry and suffer all kinds of emotional stress.
Sooner or later, caregivers realize they can't do everything on their own. By recognizing their own Superhero Syndrome sooner rather than later, caregivers can ask for help and everyone will be better for it. Getting help in their mission to care for their loved one is often the greatest superhero act they can commit.
That's why we're in this business. We're glad to provide every day superheroes with relief. We create a care plan that includes the family caregivers as part of the care plan, without being the only part. Adding additional caregivers or a Personal Support Worker (PSW) to the care plan balances out the balancing act, allowing the family members to be involved an an appropriate level and still take care of themselves. They can feel good about caring for their loved ones without the burden of having a second full-time job.
Of course, everybody has their reasons for needing help or a caregiver. It could be because a family caregiver is overly stressed with caring for a loved one on their own. It could be because a patient wants a few hours of help after receiving outpatient cosmetic surgery. It could be because it's a palliative situation and the patient prefers to be at home rather than in the hospital. Or, it could just be because they're alone and need help with daily living. Everyone has their reasons so we don't focus so much on the reasons. We care about providing a solution that works for everyone involved.