Reflections from Summit

How to land on your feet when you’re called on to be a caregiver

If you have ever flown, you may remember the part of the pre-flight announcement when the flight attendant reminds you, “In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you.  Please pull the mask down toward your face and place the mask over your mouth and nose.  If you are traveling with someone who needs help, please attend to yourself first, and only then to your companion.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when you begin your journey as a caregiver for a loved one, someone reminded you to take care of yourself first in the process?

Providing care for loved ones who can no longer care for themselves is not only crucial to their welfare, it is a complex and often difficult passage fraught with pitfalls to your own wellbeing along the way.  Often caregiving begins gradually. Grandpa can no longer mow his grass.  Grandma needs help with the grocery shopping. Or it can happen when an illness or accident changes their living circumstances—and yours—in the blink of an eye. But whether caregiving happens little by little or through one dramatic event, you probably know already that the experience can lead to burn out and stress-related health problems.

But are you aware of the emotional consequences? Paula Spencer Scott, who wrote The 7 Deadly Emotions of Caregivingwhich appeared on recently, includes these common feelings in her list.  They are guilt, resentment, anger, worry, loneliness, grief, and defensiveness. Spencer Scott offers a number of ways to mitigate these negative emotions that include everything from developing more realistic standards to live by to joining a support group or using humor to cope with the absurdity your circumstances sometimes present.

Anyone who has ever been a caregiver knows that there may be no way to turn off feelings that arise as the natural result of the situation in which you and your loved one may find yourself. But that doesn’t mean that you have to allow that situation to take complete control of your life or your emotional health. It is important to remember that emotions aren’t wrong. They just are. There is wise saying from Buddhism which goes like this: “Pain in life is inevitable but suffering is not. Pain is what the world does to you; suffering is what you do to yourself by the way you think about the ‘pain’ you receive.” Or as Byron Katie wrote in Loving What Is “We suffer when we have a thought that argues with reality.” You may want to read that again and really let it sink in.

If this is the season in which you find yourself right now and the time has come to consider a change in the living arrangements for someone you love, you may want to consider a visit to Summit of Uptown, a senior living community in Park Ridge. A premier retirement destination—already well-known throughout the area for offering the best of Independent Living and personalized Assisted Living—Summit now also provides care for those with Alzheimer’s and other memory impairments in its Memory Care Neighborhood. After 33 years of providing services to our senior population, Summit this new chapter in its history where it will now provide a continuum of care that will meet the needs of our seniors at all levels of care.

Visit our website at or call 847-825-1161 to find out more about programs, activities, services, and amenities at Summit of Uptown, which has been providing quality services for seniors for more than three decades.