Tod Sherman is a family caregiver for his wife, Dawn, and his son, Doug. He shares his story on what it is like to live day-to-day as a compound caregiver, and how he balances taking care of himself:
Compound caregiving is a balancing act. Having to care for family is truly a part of life. Thankfully, there are a few things that I have in my back pocket that I run to when I need some time for self-care. Through yoga and mindfulness, I am able to find my center.
My day-to-day tasks involve preparing medicines and breakfast for my wife and son. Then, I prepare for any doctor’s appointments scheduled for the day. I learned from when I first started caregiving that it is important to write everything down, including who I’ve talked to, doctors I’ve talked to, what we have discussed, and when I have to take them to appointments.
I am happy to do this for my family. It can be grueling, but I pride myself that I have the mental acuity and that I can function at this level. It is life and death every minute, with dealing my wife’s disabilities and my son’s cancer. But with all this, I make sure I don’t burn myself out. I hope this is something all caregivers do as well: find the time to take care of themselves!
For all the other compound family caregivers out there, reaching out and asking for help is going to be just as important as caregiving. Your questions may be multi-dimensional if you are taking care of more than one person. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help when you need it.
Yes, we are all battling drama and trauma with our own unique situations, but we learn how to cope and balance it. You have to be able to have the opportunity to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. If not, you are going to battle yourself and your emotions are going to go haywire.
Before the day gets going, take some time for yourself to breathe, put things in a good perspective, and go somewhere positive before you start taking care of others. Find something convenient that doesn’t become a burden that you can do to get away physically where everything is going on, a few minutes away physically and emotionally from what you are wrapped into. You need to distance and take a break.
Lastly, try to keep your chin up during the difficult times because the opportunity for darkness is too great. Every day is joy to have our family here with us.
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Special Thanks to: Tod Sherman
Interview conducted by: Luiza Benisano