Vivian Geary is the founder and CEO of Caring for Family Caregivers. Vivian admires the resiliency of other caregivers and builds her own by taking care of herself.
Where and when do you feel most competent? I feel most competent at home taking care of household issues. Everything is very fluid and I don’t have to think as much. Taking care of my household comes very naturally to me.
With what do you struggle? I struggle with knowing that I am making the best decisions for my Mom. There’s a conflict between her wants and her needs that I go back and forth on all the time. For example, she is diabetic and age 80. She LOVES the breakfast breads (pancakes, waffles, French toast). On a morning with a high waking blood sugar, do I grant her request for waffles for breakfast because she hasn’t had them in a while? Or do I opt for a different breakfast choice in order to get her blood sugar back under control? Should I give in to the school of thought that “she’s old; give her what she wants before she’s gone”? Or do I make the decision that helps her to be with us for a little longer?
What one thing do you wish you had more time for? I wish I had more time to travel either with my Mom or by myself. I would love to pop in and see my best friends around the country and visit some new locales around the globe.
With what do you wish you had more help? I wish I could find reliable home health workers that all had comparable skills. Then, I would never have to worry about who is working with my Mom on days where her regular people are unavailable.
Where do you find support? I find emotional support in my best friends and fellow family caregivers. We encourage one another and share in each other’s challenges. We also share an occasional glass of wine and some laughs. And that helps just as much.
What is your best habit? My best habit is carving out time for myself at the beginning and end of each day. I usually get up an hour before anyone needs me to do something for them so that I have that time to myself to pray, organize my day, dance in the bathroom mirror – whatever I need to do to honor myself to start my day. At the end of the day, I unwind by playing a few games on my iPad and I have a nighttime routine that allows me to turn my brain off and get good rest.
What is your dream retirement? My dream retirement would actually be me working all over helping family caregivers so that they feel that they are not alone in their caregiving journey. And vacation travel to sleep on beaches around the world as my “downtime”. I think of retirement as a time to do what your heart desires instead of working for a living.
What do you admire in/about other caregivers? I admire the resiliency and the ability to accept change that caregivers develop. Many times, situations change and you have a new set of playing rules to go by at a moment’s notice.
What is your superpower? My superpower is calm in the midst of chaos.
Caregiving: a blessing or a burden? I think caregiving is a blessing. The position that you are in to help someone very near to you is awesome! There are some times when it feels like a burden, but for the most part, it’s a blessing and my reasonable service as a daughter.