During my morning ride I usually see a couple of neighborhood women walking the circle and maybe one or two people leaving for work. However; this morning being the start of a new school year for the neighborhood kids, there was much more activity as I made my morning rounds. Coming around the inside corner of the circle of my first quarter-mile I noticed an SUV on the wrong side of the street coming towards me. The person was looking down for something on the seat and did not notice they were heading directly towards me!
I yelled “LOOK OUT!” and headed for the grass as they swerved back into the appropriate lane. The SUV came close enough that I could have reached out and touched the hood! I had to do a lot of self-talk to ride the 3 remaining laps and complete my morning ride.
So you may be thinking ‘besides being a frightening experience for you Sue, what does this have to do with caregiving?’ I’m glad you asked.
Much like the person in the SUV much of our life is spent distracted by other things: work, kids, home-life; and then all of a sudden LOOK OUT! Some incident occurs and we find ourselves making impulsive decisions for elderly loved ones because we were too busy multi-tasking our day-to-day (moment-to-moment) lives to evaluate potential care issues so we are in a constant state of re-action to crises that seem to appear out of nowhere.
The truth is there will always be something in your caregiving journey that will catch you off guard, however; there are ways that you can prepare for the road ahead so that those moments are more the exception than the rule:
Evaluate the road ahead – look for potential hazards like living conditions (see Safeguarding Your Loved Ones Home) or family medical history for potential future health concerns.
Stay alert – there may be warning signs that could assist you in taking the right care route. (See Pro-active vs. Re-active Caregiving)
Stay in your lane – trying to be everything to everyone can leave us scattered and distracted. Learning to set appropriate boundaries can assist you in staying focused on what you need to do. (See It’s OK to say NO / Boomers and Boundaries)
Enjoy the ride – sometimes we are so focused on getting to our destination that we miss time spent with loved ones and little moments along the way. Create time for self-care and fun times spent with others. (See Schedule Time Together)
There will always be obstacles to overcome along the caregiving journey, however; by being proactive they will be few and far between.