June 1, 2016 | 8:00 am | By Pants Up Easy
If you have recently assumed the role of caregiver to a paraplegic, you’ve taken on something of a monumental responsibility. It’s a noble task, and you’ve made a commitment and likely some significant sacrifices in order to benefit your loved one. Your new role is not an easy one by any means. We’d like to share with you some tips that will help you in your efforts.
If you did a double take when you read that last sentence, I’m not surprised. You’re adjusting to a role in which you’ll be almost constantly providing care for someone else. You’ll need to be somewhat selfless to make this work. But really, it’s of the utmost importance that you take care of yourself, so we listed this one as the top priority. If you’re not in good health, how could you possibly be an effective caregiver.
As a brand new caregiver of a paraplegic, you’ve got a lot to learn. The more you know about your loved one’s condition, the better equipped you’ll be to provide the best possible care. Fortunately there’s a lot of information available to help you get started on the right foot. The web is filled with valuable resources, all at your fingertips. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation focuses their efforts on victims of spinal cord injuries, and offers a wealth of support for caregivers.
You’re probably beginning to spend much more time at home than you’re used to. That can feel isolating and lonely. It’s easy to forget that there are other people in similar situations, making similar sacrifices, and possibly dealing with similar challenges and frustrations. Connecting with the community of caregivers, either online, or “in the real world”, will help to break down those feelings of isolation. That in itself is empowering. You’ll also gain access to more resources, including people who may have some additional helpful tips or advice.
There are two parts of this one. You need to accept your situation, and that of your loved one who needs your support. But you also need to develop acceptance of your own feelings. Your role as caregiver of a paraplegic is likely to bring out a range of complex emotions. You need to accept both the good and the bad. There will be days that you’ll feel fear, grief, guilt, and yes, even resentment. Feeling those things doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or that you don’t love the person you’re caring for. These are human emotions, and acknowledging those feelings is a part of working through them.