In celebration of my book, Prayers of Hope for Caregivers, I’m introducing you to real-life caregivers who have served selflessly and faithfully. My prayer is that their stories and tips will encourage you in your own caregiving journey. No matter how hard or lonely the path, remember you’re not alone!
Today, meet my friend Pam…
Welcome, Pam! Who are your care recipients?
My husband’s 90-year-old parents
What are their physical challenges?
Dad is frail of body (at 40 he had a stroke that left him disabled on half his body). Mom is frail of mind. She has always struggled with mental health issues. Throughout my 40-year marriage, Dad has been disabled and Mom has had various mental health issues. Now she is agoraphobic and a bit of a hoarder.
What has been the biggest challenge in your caregiving journey?
Caregiving is so unpredictable. We schedule 20-25 (unpaid) hours a week to help, yet at anytime there can be a crisis, a fall, an issue–and somehow we need to keep our business and ministry running. We make it work, but we are always regrouping to find that balance.
A funny story: We got dad an Alexa to help entertain him. He kind of has a crush on Alexa now. He loves how polite she is (and her daily jokes). And early on, we got a late night call. “She’s broken. She won’t do anything I ask.”
Bill replied, “Dad, try it again and keep me on the phone so I hear.”
His dad said, “Alexa, turn on.” It was just like the YouTube video clip on Alexa Silver Edition! However, we did have to ask Dad to check his watch before calling us at night if it was a non-emergency, because one night we got home at midnight after an 8-hour air flight day. We finally got asleep at 2 am only to get a call from dad. “Bill, Alexa is broken!”
My kind husband calmly replied, “Dad, it is 2 am. Let’s let Alexa sleep and I will be over in the morning.”
What moments of joy have you experienced?
Bill’s dad was a very busy successful rocket engineer in the space program, so his hours were long and the commute in Los Angeles traffic made it even longer. Because of this, Dad was not very involved in his kids’ lives. These caregiving years have helped Bill really know his dad better, and Dad is sharing more of their family history, his military career, and we have even learned more about his early spiritual life, which we had no idea about until we began this caregiving journey.
There are funny stories too. Bill’s dad is legally blind but loves when Bill helps him drive the motorized grocery shopping cart. They have only taken out one end cap! Lol.
What Bible verse has been most encouraging to you?
Deut 33:25 “…your strength will equal your days…”
We carry A LOT of responsibilities and have very long ministry days without the caregiving, so we trust God to EMPOWER, ENCOURAGE, and STRENGTHEN us for this season.
What practical steps or tips have helped you through caregiving?
I try to create a team. Bill’s sister has been a great teammate. Even though she lives on the other side of the USA more than half the year, she handles much of the paperwork, some doctors’ phone calls, and phones Dad most every night. She was also very gracious to let us live at her country home in our moving transition when we moved to live closer to his folks to help them. Because of her kindness, we could take time to locate our live-aboard boat where we now reside just about 20 minutes from his folks.
What spiritual practices have been helpful for you?
PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!
I always have praise music going, and we take a morning and evening prayer walk.
Digging into God’s Word strengthens me too. God knew the best time for me to write Discovering Hope in the Psalms was in this season when I most need to hold onto hope (co-author Jean E. Jones and art by Karla Dornacher).
What would you say to another caregiver in your shoes right now?
Don’t go through this alone! Right before our move to live near Bill’s folks, I flew early to a Texas speaking engagement just to have dinner with two godly mentors. These women, Carole Lewis and Karen Porter, are both speakers, lead ministries, and write AND were caregivers for extended years, so I wanted to meet and ask them questions and glean their wisdom. Since that time, several other friends have released books and devotionals to bless and build caregivers. My story is one of the devotionals in Kathy Howard’s devotional guide: 30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents.
Also, get and stay in shape. Now is the time to make sure you also take good care of you. I am in and I run an online wellness group using the Zoom app. This is a ministry through First Place 4 Health, and I was able to lose 50 lbs and keep it off now for 8 years, and I am getting stronger and healthier daily. My in-laws and my husband need me to get and stay strong! First Place also hosts wellness weeks and weekend getaways, and I make sure to attend at least one of these each year as a time of respite and renewal.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Pam! You are an inspiration to us all as you balance, serve, praise, and keep pressing on. Continued prayers for you and Bill in this season.
Pam Farrel is an international speaker and author of 47 books, including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, her newest Get It Done Girl: Maximizing Your Moments Action Planner (Love-Wise Publications), and Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience (Harvest House). When the Farrels are not on the road speaking or helping with caregiving, you will likely find them biking or walking the beach near their live-aboard boat docked in Ventura County, California. Learn more at love-wise.com.
7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping Everything Together
Everyone longs for a simply beautiful life, and this 7-week guide helps a woman strengthen the 7 key spokes of her life, and like a bike wheel, these 7 simple skills are the spokes that roll her life forward.
From Pam: “In this book, I share the need to BE a lifegiver and surround yourself with lifegivers. I tell a story of our college son who volunteered to move in with his grandparents for 6 weeks and help his grandpa rehab after surgury. This was a huge sacrifice for my son, but God’s mercy met him there as both he and his grandfather are engineers! So they engineered all kinds of ramps and other safety items in the house. Later that year, still motivated by his compassion, he signed up for a missions trip to Honduras. He went to build a house for a widow with 13 kids. While there he met and fell in love with a pastor’s daughter from the east coast who would soon be a doctor. God used their compassionate hearts to cross their paths. I also believe God honored Caleb for being a lifegiver to his grandpa by introducing him to the love of his life!♡”