Jennifer Sermabeikian is the Author of Self-Care for Caregivers and a former family caregiver to her late Mother and is a current caregiver to her father.
Jennifer’s journey has been a roller coaster in recent years. All of these life-changing experiences have helped prepare her for where she is today.
We spoke with Jennifer about her experience as a caregiver. Here’s what she had to say.
Share your story – how did you get started and how did you get to where you are today?
I have been in the health and wellness field for 20 years. When my daughter was very young, months old, I could tell something was unique in her. Then, as time went on, I noticed she was a highly sensitive child. Learning about this, the brain & how each person is unique in their own being was a beautiful process. It helped me gain more patience, compassion, empathy, unconditional love, and no judgments about how things are supposed to be.
Years later, both my parents were diagnosed with cancer which motivated me to continue learning more. I went to every appointment I could to support, learn and share my knowledge.
I’ve had many personal life changes in recent years. I got divorced, my daughter was diagnosed with mental health issues, my mom passed away unexpectedly during surgery, and I moved in with my dad, who has Alzheimer’s. All of these life experiences have helped prepare me for where I am today.
Share the background of how/why you knew your Dad required a caregiver? Was there an instance that made you realize you needed to explore options?
Spending so much time with my parents, I could see and hear my dad changing, which began a few years ago. The biggest thing we noticed was dad getting lost on the roads that he drove on daily.
After my mom passed away unexpectedly, the stress of it all made my dad worse. The hardest part was that my mom treated dad like a king and did everything for him since the beginning of their marriage. So now that he was alone, he was lost in more ways than one. So, I moved in to help him and have been here for over 2 years.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew when first starting your caregiving journey?
Having a support system is extremely helpful. Even if you don’t have support in person, having a community online can be so beneficial. I say this because things change daily, and we don’t know what to expect. But when someone else has experienced it or understands your feelings, it helps us get through the difficult times. Having people that understand what we are going through helps us not feel alone.
Tell us about your book, Self-Care for Caregivers – why did you write it and what it is about?
For caregivers to successfully help those under their care, they need to provide themselves with self-care. If they are not taking care of their physical, emotional, and mental health, they will not be as equipped to serve others. This journal provides caregivers with the needed channel to document their own self-care journey and provide inspiration and internal peace. Using this journal for 60 days will give caregivers accountability to themselves.
We know that when we repeat actions for a prolonged period of time, consistently, it becomes a routine. Likewise, self-care is a routine that is non-negotiable, and this journal will set the tone for the present and future healthy you.
I learned that if we don’t support ourselves mentally, physically, and or emotionally, we cannot give our full effort to care for others. That is why this journal came about. To give me accountability in making an effort for self-care. I realized there are so many out there who care for others in so many ways, and I wondered if they are making time for themselves, or are they draining all their energy?
This journal is a way to help us all make time for ourselves, love ourselves, and nurture our hearts.
What do you recommend for self-care?
When we think of self-care, we tend to think of getting our nails done, a massage, shopping, etc. But when you are a caregiver, it is important to make sure you are doing the simple things in life like – getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthy food, exercising, talking to a friend, connecting with others that understand, taking a moment for you, etc.
As a caregiver, what resources do you think would be beneficial to offer?
We are blessed to have support groups online for those that have a hard time leaving the house. The resources out there are so beneficial. Having people who relate and understand is necessary to the heart and soul of a caregiver. I have heard how caregivers want to connect with others in an online dating sphere who understand their situation. Also, self-care accountability groups and support is so important.
What else would you like to share with fellow caregivers?
- If we don’t make time for ourselves, no one else will do it for us.
- If we don’t care for our health (physical, emotional, and mental), no one else will do it for us.
- If we don’t take care of our thoughts, no one else will do it for us.
- If we don’t love ourselves as we are, no one else will do it for us.
- If we don’t get the sleep, no one else will do it for us.
When we keep pushing forward without self-care, we become depleted. It affects all aspects of our life. But when we take baby steps and start prioritizing ourselves, a positive shift occurs. We feel better, think more clearly, and are better equipped to handle challenges, we work smarter, and we become more aware of the present moment.
Love yourself by taking care of yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself within and then for others.
Where to find Jennifer:
Instagram: @livingjen https://www.instagram.com/livingjen/
Facebook: @livingjen https://www.facebook.com/LivingJen
Find her book here!
Jennifer’s story is special and unique, just like every caregiver story is! She is a great reminder that self-care is so important and in order to give care for someone else, you must first care for yourself. We encourage you not to try to go on your caregiving journey alone. There is a community out there who understands what you’re going through and people who have been where you are. Find your local CRC and connect with your local family caregiver community today!Share this post: