How to Get Through a Bad Caregiving Day

June 4, 2009 at 9:49 pm 4 comments

When I mean a bad caregiving day, I mean a  baaaad caregiving day.

For everyone, that’s different.

It might be having a fight with your loved one–over treatment, prognosis, or just plain old stubbornness.

It might include a fall, the paramedics, or is it that your mom or dad getting physically and verbally abusive with you due to Alzheimer’s or dementia?

It may be what I faced–that my mom had utterly trashed her room in the middle of the night. She had defecated on herself, on the carpet, broken something valuable and then screamed at me when I tried to help her.

It might be that the rest of your life is falling apart–a valued relationship, the loss of a job due to the responsibilities that come with caregiving, or that you got bad news at the doctor’s.

How do you get through?

First of all, it takes a deep, deep resolve that you must care for your loved one.

You know that you have to figure out how to do this–that nothing, not even the worst of times will dissuade you. Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’;t get help or that you don’t have to consider a care place for your loved one–you’re still a good caregiver/daughter/son/spouse and good caregivers know when they need to “share the care.”

The other “weapons” that keep us going are varied and may include:

  • Stepping outside for some fresh air–especially when the moment is heated.
  • The use of cold water splashed on your face–popping a diet coke or a hunk of dark chocolate.
  • Going to the car for a great big screaming session. Nothing is more cleansing that getting the hurt and venom out.
  • Caring from an emotional distance. It’s sometimes necessary to step back–emotionally. Clean up the mess. Apologize. Make the calls and deal with the medical issues at hand, but do so by creating a safe distance. You are still a loving, committed person–but you don’t have to be all lovey-dovey all the time. And you don’t have to let them continue to push your buttons. Care in a calm, purposeful manner–but save your heart for you.
  • Fall into the “arms” of others who love you. Got a husband or a wife? Take a shower together. Cry in the shower. Hand them some lotion and ask for a rub down. Got a best friend? Go get a big long hug. Have a glass of wine or two. Vent. Laugh, and appreciate the fact that others care about you.
  • Get out. After a particularly hard day, it’s time to get out and see that there’s a great big wonderful world out there. Run to store nearby and get some supplies. Make a pot garden. Buy one pot, some dirt and a few flowers. It’s amazing how therapeutic dirt really is. Or get some yarn and a how-to-knit book. Yes, you have to go back home, but go back with a renewed sense of self-nurturing.
  • Complain! Hey, you have the right to! But do so with style–can you crack a joke? Even a rather scandalous, sarcastic, slightly irreverent joke about the whole thing? Go for it! It helps so much to turn this “mess” into something less scary and laughing hysterically at something that at the time didn’t seem that funny is turning the light on in the closet of our lives and seeing that big hairy monster is really about the size of a mouse.

You’re going to have them. Horrible, horrendous days.

The question is, do you have a plan?

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving, sundown syndrome. Tags: , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tuesday  |  June 5, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you for all these wonderful tips. My grandmother was my grandfather’s primary caregiver throughout the 6 years that he suffered through Alzheimer’s. And there at the end it especially got difficult for her to cope, she lost 30 lbs and barely got any sleep. We as family members can try and do all that we can to help, but in the end the caregiver themselves must realize that they have to set aside some time to take care of themselves, or else they won’t be able to properly care for another. These are all great tips that each caretaker should utilize, here are a few more I ran across on a similar post on the topic.

    Hope these help. Thanks again for posting these.


  • 2. JaneRadriges  |  June 14, 2009 at 3:17 am

    The article is ver good. Write please more

  • 3. Anonymous  |  June 15, 2009 at 9:09 am

  • 4. GarykPatton  |  June 16, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Hello, can you please post some more information on this topic? I would like to read more.


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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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