How to Deal with Caregiver Stress
By Keith Cook
Are you in the caregiver profession and dealing with caregiver stress? Do you feel torn or conflicted between the roles of caregiver and that of spouse, parent, child, or friend? Do you feel guilty, angry, or frustrated because you just can’t find any “me time”? Are you feeling alone in this situation and in need of replenishing the love and support you give?
With the increasing unemployment rate, Obama Care, and the fact that our parents are living longer, the reality of having to care for a parent is becoming all too apparent. Caregivers, in all facets of the word, are becoming more and more of a necessity.
Let us begin by getting to know what a caregiver does. A caregiver is someone who assumes the responsibilities of providing care to a loved one because of his or her inability to perform daily personal or household tasks as a result of illness, age, or disability. For instance, a spouse could assume the role of caregiver for the other spouse. Another example are adults caring for their parents and now taking on the parental role.
Playing the role of parent to a parent suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can be very challenging. This idea may not have ever crossed your mind. For some, this can be overwhelming and having a release valve can be of major benefit. It can be very beneficial having someone to create a plan and assist you in coping with guilt, blame, and feelings of abandonment – support you with the right words to say and providing you with options to regain your life.
I recently had a conversation with a friend that is a caregiver coach, Donald Rai. A Caregiver Coach helps you plan, problem-solve, coordinate services, and cope with the daily challenges of caregiving. A Caregiver Coach helps you identify your priorities and refocus your energy to balance your life. Also, a Caregiver Coach knows and understands how relationships change when you are a caregiver and the importance of balancing your ever-changing roles of caregiver, spouse, parent, and friend.
He shared a very touching and personal story with me about his mother-in-law. She passed away in 2000 while in the hospital after having her 3rd open heart surgery. Even though, in his eyes, she was a very strong willed woman, he noticed that this time, she had lost the will to fight.
He stated that the 3 weeks following her surgery, the family came together as a unit. He also experienced a lot of resentment, bickering, and conflicts between the siblings and immediate family. Seeing the stress and frustration first hand, something dawned on him. He saw a need and decided to fill it.
The idea behind caregiver coach is in order to take better care of your loved one, you must take care of yourself first. This theme originated from a conference he attended in 97. The conference showcased several therapists and psychologists who all spoke around the same theme. In order to take better care of your patients, you must take care of self.
This story resonates with me because I had to care for my grandfather for a short while. He has a touch of dementia and is becoming complacent. Thank goodness he can still feed, clothe, and bathe himself, but at times he just forgets to take his medicines. He’s 85 years young and fortunately, I was able to relocate him to his son’s house who happens to be married to a nurse. So my grandfather couldn’t be in better hands.
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