By Talia Giordano, MSW, LSW Gift of Life Howie’s House Social Worker
Transplant caregivers are not only caregivers – they may also be a mom, dad, daughter, son, sibling, spouse, significant other, friend, peer, boss, coworker, etc. We all wear many hats in our lives – some of those roles may be long-lasting and some may come and go depending on our stage of life. Excelling at these many roles can be very gratifying and even enhance performance in those roles. However, multiple roles can also mean difficulty managing time, potentially disappointing someone or yourself, creating stress, and even feeling burnt-out. It is important to identify ways to manage each of our roles to avoid becoming overlystressed or burnt-out.
PRIORITIZE: Begin by writing down your different roles and important values and responsibilities within those roles. Think about which are most important and current. It’s helpful to be specific here. For instance, instead of writing family, write the specific roles within your family. Family may be very important to you, but your responsibilities related to each role may vary – example mom, son, or spouse. As you think meaningfully about your roles, you begin to identify the values you place within those roles, which can help to better prioritize and manage them
1. Spouse – spending [quality] time with my spouse, being an attentive and supportive spouse, feeling loved and providing love.
2. Caregiver – providing support and care to my spouse’s transplant needs such as transportation to appointments and medication help, encouraging them by being positive and bringing hope to my spouse.
3. Work/employee – accomplishing something important, feeling financially stable, helping people.
4. Parent – spending quality time with my adult child, providing support, feeling connected.
5. Friend – laughing with friends, having someone to listen, enjoying hobbies with someone.
PLAN: Plan ways to fit important tasks and responsibilities into your schedule and write them into your calendar. If being a spouse and spending time with your spouse is important to you, then plan on ways to spend time together doing meaningful things. At this time you can also begin to think about whether you want to integrate certain roles, or keep them separate from one another. Integrating or separating is completely up to you and what you feel works best. For example – does spending time with your spouse by going to a clinic appointment also count as “spouse time?”
REFLECT: Sometimes we spend time on tasks or responsibilities that are not meaningful to us. It is important to reflect on how you feel about the different roles you play and how you are managing them. After some reflection, you may realize some tasks should be prioritized higher than others. Some tasks may be integrated with others, while some may not. For instance, if you feel your role as a spouse is weakening because your role as a caregiver is strengthening, then you can begin to identify ways to try and separate the two – example: spending meaningful time with your spouse separate from your transplant-related care time together – going to a movie vs. visiting the doctor. Reflecting on this can help you understand where changes might be best made to better manage the many roles you have as well as reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life.
Looking for additional support or information? Please reach out to our social worker, Talia Giordano, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 267-546-9817.