“It’s easier to look back at an event and see a better choice or pathway because we already learned from our experience. Hindsight happens after the lessons, so we can’t condemn ourselves for not knowing the lesson before we learned it.” Emily Maroutian.
Caregiving is a series of lessons, some of which come at us fast and furiously, like when we are suddenly responsible for medical caregiving tasks. Some lessons come slowly as we learn how to navigate the different stages of our caregiving role. Either way, we beat ourselves up because we did not see warning signs, signs which are always clearer in the rear-view mirror.
This can be especially true when we care for someone with a memory impairment. As I wrote in A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers, “Don’t quarterback a game that has already been played. We tend to look back after a dementia diagnosis and say “Oh this started five years ago. If only I had….” We all have memory lapses, but the memory comes back to us. When we look back at our caree’s memory lapses, they can be few and far between, which makes seeing what is occurring difficult and beating ourselves up about it futile.”
We beat ourselves up for making the ‘wrong’ decision. Is it really the ‘wrong’ decision or is it just the lesser of awful options? Truthfully, most of our options are just awful and making a decision doesn’t feel good. But not deciding can get us into trouble. We must trust that we are doing the best we can with the knowledge we have in that moment. And, be OK with the fact that things will change, so you can expect to revisit your decision.
We beat ourselves up for our ‘mistakes’. The problem is when it begins to feel like every mistake is a monumental one or that we are terrible caregivers because we made a mistake. Mistakes are opportunities to learn from and move on. When we share the things we did wrong or a better way of doing something with our care team, they learn as well and it won’t happen again. Much of caregiving is new to us and what needs to be done changes and increases as our care partner’s needs grow.
Caregiving is a series of lessons. We can’t condemn ourselves for not knowing the lesson before we learned it.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract and “A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.” Your Caregiver Relationship Contract is available in both English and Spanish. It explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems during caregiving. A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers explains how important it is to learn how your person wants to live their life out and how you, the caregiver are the most important person in this relationship, giving you tips and tricks for this journey.
Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract or here for the Spanish version: Su Contrato de relación como cuidador de un ser querido. Click here to learn more about A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find the resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please contact her at: Free 30 minute consulting call