Wellness in the midst of caregiving

Terry PriestleyTerry Priestley Member Rank ✭4✭
edited November 2019 in Lifestyle
Caregiver: A person provides direct care to another person (child, elderly or ill)
Caretaker:  1. One that gives physical or emotional support.  2. One that takes care of the house or land of an         owner who may be absent.  3. One temporarily fulfilling the function of office.   (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

These titles are often used interchangeably and are often blurred.  Since, it is often hard to differentiate one from the other for they are being carried out simultaneously.  Many of us have or will have these titles at some point of our lives.  

I am not an expert on the topic by no means.   But, what I am is an oncology nurse for many years and a caregiver/taker to my elderly mother and deceased sister.  It is not an easy task or even a welcomed one at times.  What it is...is a hidden blessing.  The ability to apart of a persons life in their most vulnerable state.   What is also is a challenge.  To cope with your plans being changed as you are heading out the door to your workout because your mother isn't feeling well and you know it isn't a good idea to leave her alone.  You becoming vulnerable to not taking care of yourself when you need it most.  We've all heard "you need to TAKE CARE of yourself or you won't be able to care for whomever it is you are caring for".   I know this, you know this but do we listen?  

TAKE CARE = CARETAKER   One that gives physical or emotional support.  

Why is that so difficult for us to do for ourselves?   It was extremely difficult for me to do while caring for my mom and trying to be there for my sister.  I was spent.  Heck, there were days I felt I didn't have the energy to care for them let alone myself.  There were times I felt I was being tag teamed.  I got so overwhelmed with trying to be there for both mom and my sister. I could no longer maintain my workout schedule (caring for myself) because I was unable to go to class at the very last minute.  After, I had gotten up early to eat so I wouldn't get sick during FSx . :#  And feeling the disappointment when I was really looking forward to class.  Eating habits there weren't any, me time became sleeping and showering.  You get the picture.  

I knew I could not do this on my own.  I had to reach out.  I prayed and asked God for guidance and help.  I called on my siblings who were able to share some of the caretaking of my sister and I sent a mercy text to my trainer Trent who knew of my situation.  Asking for help and guidance since I had missed so many classes.  He spoke with Jared and I was given all the classes I had missed in a bank and was allowed to come to class whenever I was able.  I also received cards and messages from Trent and other AFS staff checking in sending their support.  It truly made a world of difference.

If or when you find yourself in a similar position be a caretaker for yourself first.  Reach out, ask for help, pray, seek others.  You will be amazed at where and whom the help, support and love come from.  This forum is any awesome place to come for support.  Hats off to AFS!  

Sadly, my sister passed away a few weeks ago.  It is hard, but at the same time I feel such a sense peace.  Peace because I know she is in heaven with God.  Peace because I know my family both biological and acquired are there for me in "whatever capacity you need".  (Jared Freeman)  It is and was an honor to care for two very special people.

Feeling Grateful....Terry


  • Nate LangleyNate Langley Member, Administrator, Moderator, AFS Staff admin

    Beautifully written @Terry Priestley ❤️ You’ve demonstrated these past few months what “strong” really means. Your family is so lucky to have you.. both biological and acquired.

  • Jared FreemanJared Freeman Member, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin
    Your perseverance and grace during such a difficult time is inspiring Terry! Thank you for sharing your story, we are lucky to have you in the AFS family! 

    Jared Freeman BS CPT CSCS

    Agent of Change / Managing Partner 

  • Sawyer Paull-BairdSawyer Paull-Baird Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin
    I don't know you personally, Terry, but I was touched by your story.  Very honored to have you as part of the AFS family, and so happy our team has been able to help you through this time.  Yes, we all have heard the maxim "take care of yourself in order to take care of others".. and while it is true, it is not always that easy in the moment, I am sure..  We can make all of the statements we want about "planning ahead", "making time" etc.  but it sounds like at the end of the day what made the biggest difference for you was knowing that you had people that CARED about you, and had the support and love of a community (this makes me think of the blog @Corinne Albrecht  just wrote here).  Very powerful stuff.  Keep staying strong.. and thankful to have you in the AFS family.
    Sawyer Paull-Baird BS CSCS ACSM-EP PN-Lvl1
    Agent of Change / Fitness Innovation & Education Coordinator
  • Corinne AlbrechtCorinne Albrecht Member, AFS Staff Rank ✭8✭
    I too don't know you personally, Terry, but Sawyer's tag on my blog lead me to your post and I am feeling blessed by your story today :) asking for help is one of the most vulnerable, and thus most strong, things we can do. Talking about it publicly adds another layer of vulnerable strength--you should feel proud of your spirit today! I'm so happy that not only was your community able to rise up in support for you and your family but also that you have a peace in your heart. Take care, Terry <3 
  • Andrew AnderlieAndrew Anderlie Member, Administrator, Moderator, AFS Staff admin

    This is a very powerful story @Terry Priestley . You are such a blessing to be around and the energy you bring is contagious. I am so happy you have found peace knowing that your sister is now pain free and in Gods hands 🙏💙

  • Tricia NaultTricia Nault Member, AFS Staff Rank ✭7✭

    My mom was a caretaker for my dad for many years when he had alzheimer's. I would have him one day a week, so that she had a break, I really cherish those days I took care of my dad then, because we talked and I asked him questions, and just made some great memories during his last years. Still, it was hard when I lost him in Costco, or the time he suddenly decided that it was an emergency that we did not have jello in the house so off we went to the grocery store, all while I was listening in to a conference call for work!

    But there did come a time when my mom had to make the very hard decision that my dad needed to be placed in a nursing home. With him living at home, my mom wasn't a wife anymore, but his nurse and aide and babysitter so to speak. Getting help to take care of your loved one, whether it's in-home help, a nursing home, or whatever, allows that caretaker person to be a wife again, or a sister again, or a daughter again. You can only do so much, but when it starts taking a toll on not only your physical health but your mental health, then you need to know when to get help. There's a reason why the flight attendants tell passengers to put their own oxygen masks on before assisting others!

    Anyway, enjoy your loved ones while you can, and make good memories, because they will sustain you through the tough moments. :)

  • Lauren Baker (RH)Lauren Baker (RH) Member, Inward Journey Meditation Group Member Rank ✭6✭

    Thank you so much for sharing your story @Terry Priestley, and so sorry for your loss. You have been missed in the mornings. Sending you prayers for strength and peace as you move through the changes and feelings that are sure to occur in the coming months. Hope to see your smiling face soon! <3

  • Brook AdamsBrook Adams Member, Practitioner admin

    Thank you for the strength you've demonstrated in sharing this story. This is a topic that isn't talked about enough. In hard times, or even just day to day life, it is all too easy to forget to take care of ourselves in lieu of others. The intentions are so strong and bound in love, it can be hard to see when your personal health has taken a hit. Thank you for reminding us all that taking care of yourself will only aid in helping others. :)

  • Kemper SosaKemper Sosa Member, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin

    What an incredible story @Terry Priestley . Thank you for sharing such a personal lesson with all of us. Like you stated, community can be a powerful tool to utilize during any obstacle life throws our way. I'm honored to be a part of your, and many other's, community.

    Kemper Sosa

    Agent of Change & General Manager

    BS, CPT, CSCS, ACSM Exercise Physiologist

  • Terry PriestleyTerry Priestley Member Rank ✭4✭
    edited November 2019

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words.

    I would love to keep this conversation going. If anyone would like to connect further and form a social support group on the forum that would be great. @Jenny Gordon it sounds like we share some commonalities in that we both care for our mothers full time. Let’s connect!

  • Heather  QuinlanHeather Quinlan Member, Inward Journey Meditation Group Member Rank ✭7✭

    @Terry Priestley - your heart is so beautiful. I remember when I first met you at AFS and you were nothing but smiles, joy, and gratitude. Your energy was (and is) a gift. Yet to know all that you've been going through and all that you will continue to face... your strength is unlike anything I've known. And your faith is inspiring. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story with all of us. Although I knew you have been going through a lot, it has touched me deeply to read your authentic thoughts and feelings. I feel so blessed to know you and call you not just my #fitfam but my friend. 💗

  • Rachel DoleckiRachel Dolecki Member Rank ✭1✭
    edited November 2019

    @Terry Priestley ... I just need to say thank you! Thank you for the amazing kindness and hug I got from you the other day. I needed it!! Grief bursts get me a lot lately. Again thank you!

  • Terry PriestleyTerry Priestley Member Rank ✭4✭

    Rachel Dolecki, you are so welcome. I do understand and would love to connect with you sometime if you’d like.

Sign In or Register to comment.