Che bella sorpresa! “What a nice surprise!”

Accepting the help of others is one of the best and most difficult ways of fostering loving relationships.”

Gary Chapman in Love As a Way of Life

Several years ago, I was pleasantly surprised when I traveled for a second time to Italy that none of the “wow” factor was lost during my return to that beautiful country. Believe me, at almost every turn, I was holding back the words, “Che bella sorpresa!”

Every day, my good friend and I were able to drink in the best Italy had to offer. Truly, it was ten days of moving from one lovely scene to the next…one surprise after the next.

That picture perfect memory was only slightly dimmed by one delay after another en route home. High winds cancelled flight after flight until we were “stuck” in Frankfurt overnight. If you’ve ever traveled overseas, you know how deep the weariness can reach…well, we had experienced the high-highs, now we were experiencing the low-lows of international travel.

Even though we were exhausted when we finally stepped foot back on American soil, the good far outweighed those difficult moments. And we learned an important lesson…how to ask for help in a foreign country surrounded by people who don’t speak our language. And in turn, we learned how to best help other stranded travelers with our newfound knowledge.

It was give and take every step of the way. And to our surprise, people (weary though they were), stepped up gladly to help us get where we needed to go…they also found us housing, fed us, and transported us around town. Relief. Gratitude. We felt them both…and perhaps most important, we learned how to best navigate in uncertain, unfamiliar circumstances.

Though we couldn’t eliminate the element of unexpected, we adjusted as we went along…and it is with that same flexibility that we as care givers must embrace our roles here at home. Plan ahead as much as possible…but learn to make adjustments as you move along.

Eliminate the element of surprise by looking ahead…

One of the best practical steps to take before agreeing to become the primary caregiver to a loved one is to realize the unexpected is likely to occur. Even with the best laid of plans, real life throws us curves. Sometimes a good night’s sleep or a long walk will easily cure these unwelcome visitors. Others will require immediate, determined intervention and may take days or weeks to resolve the issue.

With either scenario, a good attitude, a healthy perspective, as well as the support of others, can make a world of difference. It’s all about choices, those we make for ourselves and for those we care about.

Dr. Foetisch shares on how-to care-give by giving careful consideration —

· Providing care for a sick individual almost always requires more time and resources than most people realize.

· Realize that the level of care can quickly change from minor to constant 24/7-hour care.

· Caregivers need to ask themselves if they are “mentally tough enough” to help with bathing, bathroom, medications and possibly dressing changes or tubes and IV lines.

· Before the caregiver becomes overwhelmed, decide ahead of time when the need for another arrangement will be required such as transfer to a nursing home or hospice facility.

· Plan for unexpected expenses to arise from a variety of sources.

· When caregivers begin feeling frustrated, anxious, or depressed note these as warning signs that the situation must be promptly addressed and responsibilities reduced.

· No one individual should assume the caregiver role without some form of backup, even for a short period of time.


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