I’ve applied to a lot of companies over the years for a variety of jobs. You know how it goes. They tell you what type of superhero employee they’re looking for, and you tell them how your particular superhero cape comes in every size, shape and color that they happen to need. You land the job and after a short period of time, you’ve conquered the learning curve, multitasking like a pro. Everyone relaxes, and you start arriving home most evenings at a reasonable hour. Even when you love your job, there still is that moment each day when you roll your sleeves back down, close the laptop, and turn out the office lights.

Unless your job is that of care giving, carer or care partner—the title changes but not the responsibilities. I’m not talking about those dedicated individuals who offer caregiving services for compensation. As wonderful as these people are, they have a job description and a defined end to their day. I’m talking about people who find themselves thrust into a position of caring for someone—usually a loved one—who is critically, and in many cases, terminally ill.

Back before my husband’s health took a sharp left turn, I had a great job, with great hours and an enviable benefits package. I was also pursuing my degree while juggling the standard responsibilities of wife and mother. Clearly, I don’t shy away from long hours of hard work. One day, though, I realized that somewhere in all of my busyness, my husband’s health was steadily eroding. And that erosion now required my full attention. I had not applied for the position of care partner, but I had agreed to care “in sickness and in health.” And just like that, I landed a job that lasted for 4 years, 11 months and 17 days. A superhero cape would have come in quite handy.

crayonsCare partners have a colorful job description. If Crayola had a representative color for every care-partnering responsibility, it would fill one of those big boxes that make an artist deliriously happy. Whether you are the care partner for your spouse, your child, your parent/grandparent or a friend, here are 50 of those shades. I’m sure there are more.

 

  1. spouse/partner
  2. cook
  3. maid
  4. butler
  5. organizer/event manager
  6. pharm tech
  7. nurse
  8. physical therapist
  9. mental health therapist
  1. financier
  2. chauffeur
  3. cheerleader
  4. occupational therapist
  5. legal aide
  6. insurance specialist
  7. HR rep
  8. scheduler
  9. parent/grandparent
  10. child
  11. sibling
  12. friend
  13. antagonist
  14. mediator
  15. IT guy
  16. spiritual advisor
  17. import/export
  18. teacher
  19. student
  20. fashion designer
  21. entertainer
  22. architect
  23. gardener
  24. sanitation executive
  25. entrepreneur
  26. historian
  27. philosopher
  28. negotiator
  29. police
  30. social media coordinator
  31. event planner
  32. author
  33. handyman
  34. interior space designer
  35. valet
  36. grant writer
  37. motivational speaker
  38. realtor
  39. travel agent
  40. nutritionist/dietician
  41. diplomat
amazingFor all of you care partners out there reading this, first of all, I salute you.  As a former member of your ranks, I recognize the 24/7 shifts of work and stress that go largely unnoticed and unsung by others. Secondly, I remind you to keep perspective. As difficult and taxing as care partnering is, you still have time to make memories with your loved one. Please do so at every opportunity before it is too late. Thirdly, I invite anyone who would like to add to my list of 50 shades, to write in their additional responsibility(s) in the comments below. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for the magnificent work you do. You have certainly earned a moment of recognition.

Standing in the storm, adjusting my sails,

Sheryl McIntire

Do you want to give a shout-out to your care partner? Tell us in the comments or email me at [email protected].