One goes through so many emotions as a caregiver- fear, sadness, anger, joy, surprise, just to name a few- but the one emotion I probably felt most often was simply, overwhelmed. That single feeling of being out of control and always on my guard amplified whatever other emotion I might have been experiencing at any given time. It wasn't really until Dad already had spent six months or so in his nearby nursing home that I finally learned how to just breathe, instead of react, whenever his weight rose unexpectedly or blood sugar spiked. And breathing, instead of reacting, made all the difference in our relationship.
As a new contributor to AARP's "Take Care" blog, I've been thinking my first post should provide a bit of an introduction. I'm one of the 33 -40 percent (depending on the survey) of U.S. caregivers who are men. My caregiving began with a phone call about 10 a.m. on Feb. 15, 2008 (one remembers these things). The caller ID showed "St. Jos. Hospital," and a St. Louis area code. St. Louis had been my then-86-year-old father's home for most of his life. This wasn't going to be good. The emergency room nurse on the other end was brief to the point of curtness.
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