Last week, the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights that I posted included one about the right “to make a life that will sustain me when I am no longer giving care to my loved one.”
That’s worth pausing over, so this week, I want you to consider what your life will look like when you are no longer needed as a caregiver. As a caregiver, you tend to keep your future focused on the needs and treatment of your loved one. And that’s a perfectly good way to go through life right now.
But your caregiving will come to an end at some point. Rather than allow that experience to be something like walking into a glass door you didn’t realize was there, it’s a really good idea to plan for that future. I like to think of this as dreaming new dreams.
Now, not tomorrow, is the time to begin to consider what you want your life to look like after caregiving. It’s the forward dreaming that we did when we were planning our education in preparation for our first career, or when we contemplated retirement at the end of our work years. If I’d been tuned into this kind of dreaming, I would have done it to prepare myself for life after the kids left the nest.
Your post-caregiving time will be a lot like empty nest syndrome. All that energy is going to need a place—or places—to be put. What will those be?
Start by taking stock of what you’ve learned and accomplished as a caregiver. Are some of those skills particularly satisfying? Would you like to be able to continue using them? What other kinds of uses require them?
What about the time and energy that you will have to spare when you’re no longer caregiving? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but put off?
Your new dream may include some things you want to return to, some things you’ve always wanted to try, or an expansion of some thing you have already learned. Listen to your inner voice and allow it to guide you in planning your life after caregiving. The dream of your future life will be worth listening to.
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