When Life Volunteers You

Caring for elderly parents, or anyone else in need, can also be much like a full-time job. This responsibility can absorb significant amounts of time and energy.  Being a caregiver can be tiring, stressful, emotionally draining, and often the effort is unrecognized. Care giving is a difficult role.  Watching a loved one physically or mentally decline and assuming responsibility for their well-being can be unpleasant and scary. When that person is angry or resistant, the task is even harder. Financial issues and family disagreements may also arise. You may need to put your own life on hold.

If you are in such a situation, recognize and give yourself credit for the level of work involved. Knowing that you are needed and performing an important task can contribute to having a sense of engagement.

A Personal Note

We were fortunate to be retired with lots of discretionary time when my mother-in-law succumbed to inoperable cancer.   During her final weeks, she was able to be at home with us.  We had the opportunity to ease her final days and express our caring.  That may sound noble, but it was actually a profound privilege to share intimacy, say what had gone unsaid, make peace with death, and forge closer ties with other family members.  What would have been a terrible, and perhaps impossible, chore before retirement became a life-enriching experience.


Babysitting grandchildren is the other common opportunity for work that may or may not be discretionary.  The job may range from sporadic episodes (while the parents take a trip, go to the movies or during emergencies) to a fulltime job, whether paid or not.  Spending time with grandchildren can be rewarding, but consider how you can cut back on this task if you find it is interfering with other things you may want to do.


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