Intimacy and Family Caregiving

banana to head      boomer-woman-thinking-with-pen-598-x-298[1]

I had a great time as the guest of Doctor Gordon Atherley, on Voice America (internet radio show) – Family Caregiver’s Unite!

For the full radio show plug this address into your browser: http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/79749/intimacy-and-family-caregivers

It’s easy to lose perspective when you’re a family caregiver. There’s so much to do and so little time to do it. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself—when one’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met, you will be able to better care for a loved one.

What is intimacy?   Generally intimacy is a close, affectionate and emotional connection. It can refer to sexual intimacy as part of a personal relationship with a spouse or partner; it can also be the loving heartfelt caring of a loved one; and it can also mean the unflinchingly honest look at oneself.

Intimacy is a very personal subject and intimacy means different things to different people. Everyone is somewhere on the continuum of sexual health, love and intimacy. There is no right or wrong place to be:  to some couples it is anything from holding hands, cuddling on the couch or reading in bed together; for other couples it’s going on a date night or planning future trips together; and to others it is enjoying sexual intercourse or other sexual activities that fulfills your sense of desire and satisfaction. I’ve also found that honest communication plays a huge role in maintaining intimacy and often fosters an even deeper level of love and appreciation.

When you’re a family caregiver it’s normal that exhaustion, lack of sleep and multi-tasking takes a toll on a relationship – sometimes just trying to get enough sleep is the most important priority. We can usually cope with a change in our routines for short periods of time but when these responsibilities become a burden and there is no hope in sight that it can cause immense stress in a relationship.

To stay strong and healthy think about what I call the 3 R’S of Caregiving – respect, realistic expectations and respite.

RESPECT– is closely linked to admiration, esteem and reverence – these are words used to describe YOU. You deserve to be held in high opinion of yourself. When you respect yourself, you ensure that your body, mind and spirit remain whole so that you can carry on the tasks of being a family caregiver.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS – this is a tough one – and when one is new to caregiving you often try to do it all – and ignore your own personal needs. Sometimes you just need to say NO when expectations are unrealistic. Don’t forget to accept offers of help – it can really help with time management and planning ahead.

RESPITE – means taking a break or finding a breathing space on a regular basis. Sometimes it is silence – how often do we have the luxury of being alone and embracing the silence – time to reflect on you, time to make sense of it all or consider your spirituality. It means rest – easing your mind, body, spirit and finding peace within.

Cheers to Sixty-Four Years!

Sue at 5 years old

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right!  With the New Year comes the opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to set (and re-set) priorities. And as an Aquarian, my birthday adds another occasion to set new goals.  Although birthdays can be bittersweet, I stay positive and savor the sweetness of celebrating my day.  It’s such a boost to my ego when family and wonderful friends make me feel special. Everyone deserves to be pampered on their BD.

Nina, a dear friend, emailed me a verse from the Beatles song – “When I’m Sixty-Four” – my feet start tapping as the melody rings in my brain. OMG – I’m HERE!

When I get older losing my hair

Many years from now

Will you still be sending me a Valentine?

Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I’d been out till quarter to three

Would you lock the door?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me

When I’m sixty-four?

Ya know … it’s not so bad. The 60s are the new 40s—and our generation has a history of not accepting mediocrity—we go for the gusto! We bring wisdom, talent, energy and perspective to society and continue to make a difference. So how are you feeling on the metre stick of life?  Have you found your sweet spot?  Did your mojo get up and go or is there still some twinkle in your wrinkle?  It’s never too late to take a risk and fulfill a life-long dream.

At 64 I’m not counting wrinkles, I’m counting all my blessings—but I know that in a second, my life can take a free fall and change forever, leaving me with regrets and who knows what else?  So now is the time to find the bliss and re-energize my being.  As you may know already, I’m writing a book, and I love every minute of the process!  Please stay tuned for my weekly quips and quills as I venture on this journey that is “Still Sexy at 60+”.   As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and questions, and if you have any hot topics that you want to discuss, shout them out!