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If You Knew Then What You Know Now

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If You Knew Then What You Know Now

ByCarol Bradley Bursack,

They say hindsight is 20/20. If you could go back in time: what would you now as seasoned caregivers say to your novice self abouthow to be a caregiver?

As a seasoned caregiver of multiple elders, I can choose to torture myself with my perceived failures at being a perfect caregiver, or I can choose to forgive myself for being imperfect, and recognize that I did the best I could at the time. You have the same choice.

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Much like an adult who realizes that he or she has a “wounded child” living inside a child who suffers from unearned self-blame or low self-esteem because of life events many adult caregivers carry the guilt from their “infant” caregiving years to their grave. They spend precious time thinking about how they should have understood someone’s needs better, could have been more patient, would have done any number of things better, if only they knew then what they know now.

The very people who take on caregiving roles are often the most sensitive to other’s needs. Many also tend to be overly sensitive in other ways. Let’s face it. Whatever we do as caregivers seems to be wrong in the eyes of some lookers-on, generally people without all of the facts, and often people who couldn’t do what we do no matter what. Still, we are sensitive to their judgment.

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If You Knew Then What You Know Now: Hindsight for Caregivers, originally appeared on

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12:55AM PDT on Nov 2, 2011

Thanks for the article.

2:21PM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

Some things may not change, what's meant to be will be. Someone wrote about getting the younger ones involved in caring for someone , this is a terrific idea. It is an eye opener, hopefully will reach them deep within and know the meaning of love, compassion, caring and sharing especially precious time.

7:47AM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

Things would have been different!

8:05PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

When my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor & needed care, 5 sisters, 1 brother & myself held a meeting with the dr. - conversation centered around sending her to a nursing home. She had just moved in to a Retirement Facility and was the happiest she had ever been the entire time I knew her. (She was not a happy person - she led a very difficult life). Even though she made it clear that she had no use for me, I did not hesitate - she was my mother and had made sacrifices for me (she was quite the martyer but that wasn't the point). I was off for the summer because I was a teacher so I offered to care for her 5 days a week 24/7 if the rest of the family would spell me on the weekends. I did that for three months. It was not easy - I had to sleep on a loveseat and I am a tall woman, she yelled at me and fought me at every turn. That did not detere me - I knew I was doing the right thing. When I had to return to school in the fall, she had digressed and it was harder and harder for the family to care for her. When she finally got to the point that we could no longer lift her to help her to the toilet - my eldest sister took her to a nursing home - then she called the rest of the family. It was time. I immediately left work and met them there. My mother was in tears, SCREAMING, begging us not to leave her there. I was the only one who sobbed as I turned my back on her and walked down the hall. Exhausted, I visited her every day after work. NO regrets he

10:13PM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

Thanks, Donna. I appreciate your comment. I know if my father were here, he'd tell me, "What are you talking about? You did a great job taking care of me and your mother." I know he appreciated all I did -- he told me so many times. He used to call me his "darling girl." And he knew I loved him -- I tucked him into bed and kissed him goodnight almost every night. I was lucky to have a close relationship with both of my parents and I miss them so much now. Maybe that's why I look back on the things I regret and wish I could do them differently.

For some reason, we're always harder on ourselves than we would be on someone else. I just try to remember all the good times I had with my father when I was living with him, and not dwell on the things I regret. And I remind myself that this is a lesson learned and maybe I'll be able to help some other caregiver someday.

12:09PM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

Salient points, thanks for posting.

Susan B, I'm sure your Dad would understand and appreciate all you did for him. None of us are perfect and you were doing a difficult job; please don't be so hard on yourself. Be proud that you did so much for both your parents.

3:02AM PDT on Oct 3, 2011


10:51AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

Great information - thank you!

8:50AM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

It's much harder than you might think, so this article is helpful for sure!

1:04PM PDT on Sep 29, 2011


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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