Are You Knee-Deep in Laundry? Family Caregiving Overload Examined

May 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

Being a smart caregiver isn’t about getting a degree in geriatric care. It’s about being prepared. It’s about caring for yourself so you can take care of those you love. Smart caregivers look ahead. That’s not as easy as it sounds. In fact, it’s downright contradictory to all you have on your plate. Caregiving overload.

Who can look ahead when your feet are mired in laundry, your counters are covered with prescription bottles, and your mom is calling your name…literally every five seconds! What is in your favor is that caregivers are problem solvers extraordinaire. You have to be.

I was my mother’s caregiver (she moved in with my family and me) after she developed Parkinson’s and later, Alzheimer’s. It was all I could do to meet the day’s requirements—medications, laundry, food needs, doctor appointments and interrupted sleep (mom had sundowner’s, which means she was more alert in the evening hours and even awake much of the night). Looking ahead was scary—and overwhelming. So I say this gently–start to formulate a plan for what’s next.

Will your loved one eventually need more care than you can physically or emotionally give? Begin to look around and find out what’s in your community. Attend a caregiver’s conference, go online and join a caregiver’s chat forum, and/or make a few calls. Preparation can save you valuable money, time and frustration. There are so many resources out there you don’t know about yet. Create a folder (on your computer and on paper) and begin to gather information. Knowledge is power. You don’t have to figure it all out right now, but begin to ask yourself those tough questions.

Taking care of you is almost cliché nowadays. What does anybody mean by that anyway? In terms of caregiving it means that you don’t compromise your physical or emotional needs in the name of caregiving—not to the point of it truly being detrimental to your health and your “life.” Yes, there is an element of sacrificing involved in caregiving. I had to go without sleep, spend many, many nights in the hospital at my mother’s side, strain to help lift and care for my mother (probably more than I should have).

But there comes a point to where it’s downright unhealthy or dangerous for you not to care for yourself. Too much neglect or abuse and your body and spirit will break down.

Ask yourself this question and answer honestly: Where am I neglecting or abusing myself (physically or emotionally) and what one small thing can I do consistently to change that?

Consistency is the bonus key that actually turns the lock. Just like your loved one needs their daily meds and meals, you need daily care and nurturing. You need to take your vitamins, stretch, walk, eat properly, take your medications (most caregivers are on meds themselves) and create routines that nurtures their mind and body.

Can you imagine going day after day without eating? A little self-care is fuel for the soul. If you remember those two “golden rules to caregiving,” your love and loyalty will do the rest.

Being a smart caregivers means looking at the whole picture.

Entry filed under: family caregiving. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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