The Complexity of Caregiving
- Hilary Swank, 48, who recently welcomed twins to the world, honored her father on what would have been his 75th birthday. But the acclaimed actress is also took the time to honor her father’s memory on what would have been his 75th birthday. He
- Swank’s dad died in October 2021, and she became his sole caregiver in later years after he received a lung transplant.
- Swank had a very special relationship with her father and caregiving brought them close together.
- She acknowledged that caregiving can be “overwhelming,” but she said caretakers should make sure to take care of themselves too and get the support they need.
- One of our experts says caregiving is a “labor of love.” She recommends caregivers get good sleep, eat well, exercise and find something that brings joy every day.
The “Million Dollar Baby” actress and her husband Philip Schneider have a lot to be grateful for, as of late. They recently became parents by welcoming twins to the world.Read More
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“You would be 75 today, and a Great Papa to two more extraordinary souls,” she wrote in her caption. “I celebrate you everyday and the beautiful grace filled gift you were and continue to be in my life.
“You are greatly missed by so many, but I can’t imagine anyone missing you more than me. Thank you for being my guiding light. I love you, Dad. Always and forever through every lifetime.”
How Hilary Swank Coped as a Caregiver
Needless to say, Hilary Swank had a very close relationship with her father. Losing someone you love is never easy, but Stephen Michael Swank’s passing took a huge toll. Especially since she had grown so close during her time as his sole caregiver following a lung transplant.
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“I have been off my phone and social media for a couple months due to a tremendous personal loss,” she wrote in a touching tribute on Dec. 31, 2021. “In October, my Dear Dad, made his transition to the other side. I had a rather unique relationship with him as I was his sole caretaker after a lung transplant seven years ago.
“I grew incredibly close to him during this time, deepening our relationship and savoring every moment we had together. He will always remain one of my most favorite persons and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him. But in this physical loss, as devastating as it is, I was awakened to the truest sense of living again. It helped me better understand the circle of life and where we come from and where we go back to, which has connected me back to my truest self.”
More for Caregivers
Prior to her father’s death, the two-time Academy Award-winning actress talked about stepping away from Hollywood for a few years to care for Stephen – an experience she considered to be “an honor.”
“There’s been job opportunities that I’ve passed on … But I mean, really, what we’re here for is our family, right?” Hilary told Entertainment Tonight in 2015. “There’s been a couple projects that are beautiful, but in the end, there’s nothing I want to do more other than being with my dad in his time of need. You can’t get this time back.”
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Still, she recognized the hard work it took to be her father’s caregiver. In a later interview with Health, she shared her advice for others stepping into a similar role.
“It takes a lot of energy, love, and edifying yourself on the matter at hand. The ups and downs are so challenging and can be overwhelming,” she said. “Make sure that you’re taking time for yourself and that you vocalize what your needs are to the people who are around you so they can help support you.”
The Crucial Role of Caregiving
According to Julie Bulger, manager of patient and family-centered care at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee, “caregiving is the most important job in the universe.”
“You are there through the highs and lows,” she told SurvivorNet. “You are there to support your loved one, to manage all of the daily tasks as everything is changing in your life.”
“There’s so much evidence that outcomes are better when somebody has an incredible caregiver by their side.”
Caregiving Isn’t Easy; Recognize That You May Need Help
But just like Hilary Swank expressed, caregiving can be quite overwhelming. Amy Brown, the nurse manager of Gynecologic/Oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, previously spoke with SurvivorNet about the “labor of love” that is caregiving. She says people will likely need help during a caregiving journey.
“Caregiving is a huge job,” Brown said. “It’s going to impact your health and your physical well-being. It will impact your finances, your social life, your emotions, your mental energy. It’s going to impact your free time.
“And you are going to need help.”
Brown also stressed the importance of caregivers remembering to take care of themselves while they tend to their loved ones.
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“You are going to be working hard to take care of your loved one. For many people, it is the hardest thing they have ever done or they will ever do,” she said. “So, it’s very important that you take care of yourself.
“Get sleep, eat well, exercise, find something that brings you joy every day, whether it is going for a walk, praying, meditating, watching a movie, listening to an audio book, getting together with friends and playing cards… Whatever it is, find something that brings you joy.”
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