Paul Shifrin has been the caregiver for his sister and her friend since his mother died several years ago. Until a few weeks ago, his sister and her friend were living in Farmington Hills but the distance made it difficult for him to oversee her care. He just completed an apartment for his sister and her roommate over his garage and tells us that it has been a relief to have them closer. Paul shared that caregiving is extremely hard work and compares it to raising a child. It requires immense patience and lots of deep breathing. For him, caregiving is a challenge and a reward. It can be overwhelming and take a lot of energy but at the same time, it gives his life meaning and purpose, and whenever he sees his grandchildren playing and interacting with his sister, it brings him joy knowing that he had a part in bringing them together. He also says that caregiving has widened his worldview and helped him learn about new realities and new ways of looking at things that he may never have had the chance to do otherwise. His biggest piece of advice for other caregivers is to realize one’s own limitations. In his own words, “there are some things that you just can’t make better. Treat it as life and not failure.”
Paul values self- care. He is an avid morning exerciser on his stationary bike. He also loves to challenge his mind by playing logic games. Other hobbies include gardening, and playing music. He grows vegetables in his garden which feeds his family during the winter months and has been playing the flute for over 50 years. He states, “I’ve been playing for over 50 years and maybe one of these years, I’ll actually learn how to play it.”
Paul and his wife like to reflect on each day’s challenges and rewards, discuss ideas and check in with one another, asking how are they feeling and how are they doing. Paul reminds himself and encourages others to remember that, “It’s okay to be human. As long as you are humane.”
Thank-you Paul for sharing your story and your caregiving experiences with us.