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Crochet for Caregivers

Well, it’s the last day of my ten day series of posts about crochet health. I’ve talked a lot about how crochet can help people with many different health conditions including both physical and mental health issues. I don’t want to end this series without mentioning that crochet can also be a really important part of self-care for caregivers who are taking care of those who are ill.

Caregiver Stress

If you have ever had to take care of someone who is ill, especially someone with a chronic illness, then you know that it can be terrifically stressful for everyone in the family. There are several components to this stress:

  • You are understandably worried about your loved one’s health.
  • You may be involved in decision-making around care, which can be especially stressful.
  • The ill person may behave in ways that aren’t always kind. They are experiencing their own stress and may lash out as a result.
  • You may feel like you can’t vent about your own problems because the ill person’s take precendence in your home.
  • You may be physically stressed as you take on extra responsibilities in the home.
  • There may be financial stress in the home because of the illness.

How Crochet Helps

Caregivers may find that taking some time out to crochet each day is beneficial to reducing their own stress levels during this trying time. Here are some of the ways crochet helps:

  • It provides a mental health break. You may even use crochet for mindfulness relaxation.
  • It is something you can do just for yourself.
  • It boosts self-esteem. Being unable to heal the people you love can erode self-esteem so it’s important to restore it in other ways.
  • The repetition is calming. It can help alleviate anxiety surrounding illness.
  • It restores a sense of control over something. You can’t control illness but you can make decisions about your project and that’s something.

Stress breaks down your own immune system. You don’t want to get sick when you’re a caregiver for someone else so make sure that you take adequate care of yourself during this tough time!

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Kathryn

San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

10 Comments:

  1. The hardest part about being a caregiver is never feeling as though things are well managed: I always feel as though I should be somewhere else, doing something else, and there is always something demanding my time. That sounds like life in general, but the sense of panic and failure is constant even though I am very fortunate to have a large and supportive family. One of the few times that my feeling of being overwhelmed disappear are when I take a tai chi class, pick up my current crochet project, or open a book. Learning a new tai chi move or completing a crochet project gives me a sense of peace that stays with me for some time, calming all the clutter in my brain. Reading a book takes me elsewhere for a while, which is equally as delightful. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but finding this blog and validating my guess about the value of crafting as a stress reducer and builder of self esteem has been wonderful. Many thanks.

    • @biblios Thank you so much for sharing that. I completely understand what you’re describing about the hecticness of being a caregiver and I think that you’re doing the exact right thing by using tai chi and crochet to help you get that much needed period of de-stressing. Take care of yourself!

  2. I had better keep crocheting! I am focusing on NOT giving up on the patterns that make me scratch my head “What did the designer mean when they wrote this?” I wonder and often put it down. Now I am focusing on NOT giving up and finding another pattern. I did it today when I was trying to recreate a pattern the designer deemed “easy.” The pattern in fact was pretty easy once I got the hang of it. It may seem trivial, but it is these little…variables that make my day as a caregiver!

    • @danidoesdoilies I tend to be quick to give up on patterns and techniques that I don’t get right away, too, but when I stick with them and challenge myself I’m always glad that I did!

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  7. I cared for my mom in my home for four-and-a-half years until she died from Alzheimer’s in 2012. The times we were alone and I ran out of chores I could do within her sight, I would knit and crochet while I sat with her. When she could still remember that I was her daughter, it brought her great joy that I was doing what she had watched her mother and grandmother do, and she and I would have pleasant, leisurely conversations that weren’t too taxing for her.

    As the disease progressed and she forgot who I was and could no longer carry on a conversation, we switched from talk to music. She could no longer understand television, but watching me be occupied made her feel occupied. We listened to big band music and early rock and roll, and shared one- or two-word comments and lots of smiles. It’s so nice to have such a sweet memory of such a profoundly difficult time. Much as I love the sense of meditation and production when I do my crafts, I seriously miss my mom’s quiet companionship and the joy we both got from my knitting and crocheting.

    • Thank you so very much for sharing your story with us. Alzheimer’s has affected loved ones in my life as well so I know that it’s a really difficult thing. It sounds like you did an amazing job accepting your mother for who she was at different stages and enjoying the most of her that you could. It’s inspiring. I’m so glad that you had your crochet through the whole thing. Big hugs. <3

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