On my early morning run, I came across a young man in his late teens who was sitting under a tree. I instantly knew that something was wrong with him. He wasn’t sitting outside to sun himself. It looked as though he came from a good family but was in dirty clothes with dishevelled hair and a beard.
I stopped running, walked near him, and asked him if he was all right. He didn’t reply. Then I asked him if he needed help. Again, he didn’t reply. I knew I couldn’t interfere or intervene further and walked away.
I continued with my run. I turned around and saw the young man get up and stretch himself.
This incident made an impression on me because one wonders what’s gone wrong here with this young person. I don’t want to speculate, but there could be trouble in the home. He may be on drugs. He could have a mental condition.
A loved one who is in trouble or needs help will often find that their last resort is their parents. If you have a child or loved one with a mental illness, you, as the parent, may well be the last hope.
You never know when a mental condition will surface. Or any other disability. Then you will be thrust into the role of being a caregiver.
Rosalynn Carter described it well: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
Here is a description of a caregiver from Tennessee Tech University. I find this description useful.
“Caregiving is providing care for the daily needs of someone that is unable to care for themselves. The care my include addressing the physical and emotional needs of someone that requires continuous support and attention. The individual could be a loved one or a friend. Most caregiving occurs in the home.”
It is a daunting and demanding role. You need to prepare yourself in various ways. You’ll need to take care of your loved one’s physical and emotional needs. You’ll need to be on call all the time. You’ll find it difficult to get a decent break where you can give yourself a rest.
Dealing with the issue of caring for a loved one, whatever the circumstances, can get extremely difficult at times. This is where the role of a skilled helper or caregiver comes in.
The skilled caregiver is not a psychologist or a medical professional. They are much more than mental and physical health advisors. They take into account the full circumstances of the home and how to deal with complex problems of behaviour and daily living. A skilled helper assists the caregiver to identify changes that need to be made in the life of the caregiver and the loved one.
I have found that sometimes you can’t do everything on your own and need to reach out to someone who can help you.
Looking after a loved one is going to be difficult. It’s going to challenge you like you’ve never known. You will be, as I said, the last resort for your loved one. You will need to do everything you can to keep them from going off the rails and drifting onto the street.
In a way, that becomes a death sentence. Eventually, I’ve seen that loved ones who, for whatever reason, go out onto the streets can count on a very short lifespan.