Monday, February 21, 2011

Caring For The Caregiver: How To Avoid Burnout

Stress is a nasty beast. It can build up as we go along with our lives and we don't even know it's visiting us. Until it's too late. As a caregiver to an aging parent, we have to be on high alert. Even during the best of times, looking after elderly loved ones brings a certain amount of stress.

Ways To Avoid Burnout

*** Signs of stress are sleep disorders, anger issues, anxiety, headaches and depression. Keep tabs on yourself and identify these signs early on.

*** Have someone to confide in. Someone you trust like a good friend. If you have someone going through the same thing as you or has in the past, so much the better. It's so true that you can't really understand something unless you've experienced it yourself.

*** Manage your responsibilities. Be realistic. You can't get everything done at once. Be easy on yourself. Please don't get yourself into the GUILT trap.

*** Get respite care set up. If not from a service in your area, then get a friend or relative to step in so you can have some time for yourself.

*** Have time for yourself everyday. Turn off all thoughts of responsibilities and "perfection" and go to your "happy place"!

*** If you have severe burnout and depression, please, please seek professional help!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Elder Care: The Importance Of Home Care For Everybody Involved With Aging Parents

Having home care for my mother was a godsend. For both of us. It gives the caregiver a chance to get errands done. It offers a respite for you to get away from your loved one. Which is good for both parties.

Nobody can and should be in each other's face every minute of the day. It replenishes the caregiver emotionally and physically.

For the care receiver, it's a chance to socialize with someone besides family members. My mom perked up when she knew her home care worker would be visiting. Having someone else get Mom in her bath saved my back!

Only you can visualize what the benefits to having home care would be. I urge you to call around your local area to see what's available. It can be paid or un-paid. But please look into this service. It took me awhile to get it all sorted out because I thought I had to do everything myself. Being the martyr does not work for anyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day To All Caregivers And Their Aging Parents

The day of love is here. Valentine's Day is not just for romantic couples. It's for everyone who loves. Their parents, their spouses, their partners, their friends, siblings, pets, you name it!

Hopefully, we feel the love everyday. Not just on February 14. But as caregivers, I hope you look at this day as a respite. If you're feeling stressed from the demands of looking after your elderly parents, take a moment and count your blessings.

I know that sounds trite and cliche but it is true. My Mom and I exchanged cards all the time. My most treasured ones are the ones she handmade for me when she was unable to get out in the stores. I don't have to tell you how much those mean to me, do I? I wish she were here now for this Valentine's Day...

So take the day tomorrow and find the spot in your heart that holds the best memories and cherish them.

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Caring For Aging Parents If You've Had A Dysfunctional Relationship

Alright, this is a biggie! There are no perfect relationships of any kind. But the degrees of dysfunction can vary.

Sometimes, the family evolves over time and looks back at their troubles and can now laugh. If this is your family, you're good to go. If you can be around each other and the past doesn't haunt you, you have been able to heal and move forward.

You will have to give a lot of thought to going back to living under the same roof as your parent if there was serious dysfunction.

In the event of a truly dysfunctional family, it will never get better. You couldn't live in harmony in the past. How would anyone expect you to do so now? The ill feelings are too great to overcome. Especially, for family members who have had to go into therapy for their own well-being. Your well-being has to come first. And don't let ANYBODY try to give you a guilt trip.

You didn't have anything to do with being born into your family. You've survived those years. Do not, I repeat, do not put yourself back into that environment. When we are around our parents, we do digress to our childhood memories. That's a fact.

All the dysfunction will rear up again. You will backslide. You are too important for this to happen. Find other ways to help your aging parents. Call services in their area to get assistance. Whether it be home care, assisted living or a nursing home if that's where they need to be.

Yes, it would be nice if all families were of the "Leave It To Beaver" fantasy. But that isn't what real life is like. For troubled families, life is fraught with bad feelings. They don't go away. Some will say they are over it and have forgiven.

So why do they still have nightmares about their childhoods? This happens. Unfortunately, some families need to stay away from one another. Do not blame yourself. Take care of your life. And find someone else to take care of your aging parents.