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The Cokie Roberts Interview (Page 2 of 2)

An Interview with Cokie Roberts

GB: That’s what we tell caregivers all the time.  We’re asked, “Well, what makes a successful caregiver or a successful caregiving situation?”  A lot of it has to do with flexibility and no assumptions of what you expect life to bring you.

CR: Right.  It’s not fair to have expectations of what life is going to bring you.  I mean, life is going to come up and hit you between the eyebrows and say “Hello.” 

And you know that’s one of the great myths.  People will say when someone has been sick for a very long time and a spouse is exhausted, “Oh, it must be a relief when they die.”  Well, that’s just so stupid.  I mean, the truth is there’s an enormous hole in your life after you lose somebody that you have been caring for.

GB: What advice would you give caregivers about that balancing role they need to play?

CR: You have to protect yourself.

GB: That’s very interesting.  I like the way you put that; you have to protect yourself.  I had a reporter ask me the other day if martyrdom was a sign of good caregiving?  I said, “Well, martyrdom will get you into anything, but it won’t get you out.”

CR: You end up dead, by definition. Over the years, this teleconference has had some very wise people talk about how they try to have rituals that work for them. One year, one intensive care nurse who was in the emergency room said, “Well, sex helps a lot.”  You just had to hug her.  Honesty is a good thing. 

GB: If you had just one message that you’d like to get to caregivers in particular, what would it be?

CR: There are times of acute caregiving, but that caregiving is something you do and want to do all of your life. My basic view is that we should just rejoice in it.  Anyone who has ever really thought about it knows that it is by far the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.


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