Are you Feeling Caregiver Overload?

July 22, 2009 at 12:10 am Leave a comment

I just can’t get it all done. There’s more to do in one day than is humanly possible. I’m pulling 18 hour days…and I can’t keep this up. Does this sound like you? If so, you’ve got a case of caregiver overload. It’s true. You do have more to do than any one person can possibly do. Meal prep, meds, doctor appointments, baths, treatments, calls to the insurance company…who’s got time to eat, chat, or take a bath? (What’s a bath?)

Signs of caregiver overload:

  • Exhaustion eating. That’s when you’re so tired that you pump yourself up with sugar or caffeine just to get through the day.
  • Zoning out. Your brain just shuts off. You can’t remember what you came in the room to get. You stop at a red light, zone out, and you can’t even recall where you’re at–or where you’re going.
  • Inability to control your emotions. You scream. Others cry. Some just become numb. Sometimes you do all three–within seconds.

Yes, they call it caregiver stress and it can have serious health consequences, but even as I share this with you I can hear you asking, “What can I do about it? It’s not a job I can just quit!”

You’re right. You can’t quit. But there are proactive steps you can take.

5 Keys to Unloading Your Heavy Overload:

  • Stop being a perfectionist. Give up on the clean house. Give up on all home-cooked meals. You’re in survival mode. Do what you can and let go of the rest.
  • Get mad! That’s what I said….anger is healthy…at least in small doses. When life gets to be too much, it’s telling you something–go let off some steam. Go scream in your car. Go take a cold shower, or splash ice water in your face. Punch a pillow. Have an all-out mock  fight with the doctor (in the privacy of your closet) and get out all those aggravations. Write that nasty letter and let your hurt flow onto the page. Save the letter or burn the letter, but for goodness sake’s don’t send it while you’re still mad.
  • Break into unexplained laughter. When life gets really hairy, really awful, there’s nothing better than just cutting loose and laughing at the chaos. Dr. Christiane Northrup says, “If something is worth taking seriously, it’s worth making fun of.” If she can say it, I can follow her advice. Laughing at the absurdity of your situation isn’t the same as laughing at your loved one.
  • Prioritize. There’s no way you can do all you need to do in one day. Choose the top 3 items that have to absolutely get done. Do those first. That way, if the day goes absolutely wonky, you’ll have already completed the “have to’s” early on.
  • Reward yourself. Celebrate your hard work with a soda pop, a square of dark chocolate, or ten minutes with a magazine. Caregiving can feel like a thankless job, so thank yourself! Don’t wait for someone else to praise you when you need to be the one to acknowledge your hard work, dedication and kindness.
  • Remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Don’t lose your passion and purpose. Keep a photograph of your care buddy near your nightstand or on the frig. Maybe a picture of the two of you, or when your mom, dad, or spouse was a child. Their smiling face will give you the boost you need to keep going.

Caregiver overload is just part of the job description, and you can’t stop things from piling up, but you can keep an arsenal of humor, purpose, and a few rewards along the way to keep you chugging right along.

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

“What Day Is It?” Handling Incessant Alzheimer’s Questions with Patience and Understanding Is It Alzheimer’s? Is Your Spouse (or Parent) Starting to Forget Things?

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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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