By Dr. Mara Karpel
Psychologist, Host of Dr. Mara Karpel & Your Golden Years, and Author of The Passionate Life: Creating Vitality & Joy at Any Age. Find her at: DrMaraKarpel.com
“It is not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lena Horne
Whether your loved one lives with you, in the same time zone, or thousands of miles away, there are often big decisions that need to be made involving their care, living situation, medical procedures, medications, etc. Often, the right choices are not at all clear. There are many choices, frequently none of which are “perfect,” and you will likely be asked to decide — or to help your loved one decide — which is the best decision that fits for them.
Being responsible for such heavy decision-making about such important issues that can be so unclear can certainly keep any of us up at night and cause plenty of anxiety. Here are some tips for better wading through the muddy waters:
- Get as much information as possible. Talk to professionals, research on reliable websites, ask other caregivers whom you know might have had experience with similar issues. Talk to your loved-one’s doctors, therapists, paid caregivers, and get second opinions. Read books related to the topics at hand.
- If you’re still feeling confused and anxious about the decisions, take a break. Take walks, exercise, meditate, get out in nature, to take your thoughts off of the subject for periods of time. This will give your mind a chance to quiet down from the anxious thoughts and allow your inner knowing, your higher wisdom, to process all of the information you’ve been given and to find the answer that best fits for your specific situation. The answer may come to you as a feeling of being shouted out by your inner self, “this is it!,” or it may come as a whisper.
- If this still doesn’t work, spend time, again, quieting your mind. Sit quietly, close your eyes, take some slow deep breaths. Then imagine that you’ve made a decision. See and feel what life is like after that particular action has been taken. Now quiet your mind and imagine what it looks like and how it feels after making the opposite decision. This can often give greater insight about the best decision for you and your loved one’s unique situation.
- Finally, remember that there are no perfect decisions and we only discover mistakes in hindsight. Most of us don’t own a crystal ball and cannot predict with 100% accuracy how it will work out, no matter which way we go. As I wrote about in my blog, Tips for Caregivers – Near and Far -Tip #10 – Forgive Yourself, “We all make mistakes. We’re human.” Don’t be hard on yourself for doing the best you could to figure out the right course of action.
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