The ‘Monumental Feet’ of a Caregiver

Kathleen Ismael, Reflexology Practitioner

Oh, how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him, or her, who brings good news! And the good news is, “I love you, and I will be here for you.” I remember saying these words to my Mama when she was no longer able to be alone. It was the beginning of a very different way of life … for both of us.

I had every good intention of caring for her with whatever she needed. And care I did! I wanted to support her dignity and give her every chance to be happy and feel safe. And this was no small feat! It was truly a labor of love. And we grew closer during those years than we had ever been before.

Since partnering with IronOaks Fitness Center, I have met many amazing caregiving partners, and they have been my inspiration. Caregivers tend to empty themselves to be all that they can be for their loved one. And this is a big job! What we now know is that we must fill our tank before we are able to support another. It is so important to take care of our own health. This is not selfish. This is wisdom. Eventually, I realized how much I needed help to be able to help her. Here are a few ways I discovered that we can implement self-care:

We can take personal time. Take a short walk. Call a friend.

Listen to our favorite music or to an audio book, together. Schedule a manicure, massage, or foot treatment routinely.

Seek support from other caregivers. We are not alone.

The Neighbors Who Care office right here in Sun Lakes has resources for us.

Asking for and accepting help from others is so important. I wish I had done more of this!

Join a caregivers group. Caregiving Together meets monthly and is a valuable resource of connection, support, and healing. For information, call Michelle at 480-356-2092.

Organizing and scheduling time gives us the quality of life that we desire for ourselves and our loved ones.

Be flexible. Every day is a new day. Look for the blessings and forgive. Forgive ourselves and others. Journal our challenges, and find joy in even a small success.

I wish I had understood Mama more. I wish I had been more willing to listen at her level of communication. Sometimes she just wanted me to sit with her. We didn’t need to talk. I wish I had been a little more patient with her many questions and when she couldn’t sleep.

I wish I had remembered more how much I loved her and how much of herself she had given to others in her lifetime.

Well, Mama is happily with Jesus now, and I miss her. I did all that I could for her with the resources that I had available to me. Maybe we always wish we could have done a little more.

I salute you, caregiver. You must give care to yourself, too.