Stressed Out Caregiver? Laugh, Cry and Scream Your Way to Wellness

September 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm 2 comments

As a caregiver, there’s so much you can’t control–and so much you can’t make better. People often ask me what was the most difficult part of caring for my mom (my mother had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) It wasn’t the long hours, the interrupted sleep, the physical strains of lifting and moving her…it was that I couldn’t make it better.

I was powerless to stop the corrosion of Alzheimer’s.

That’s what I realized was the seed of my frustration, but layered on top of that was the daily frustrations and aggravations that ranged from feeling like a mosquito driving you crazy in the middle of the night to having your eyes pecked out by vultures!

My mother may have had lost her cognitive abilities to Alzheimer’s and her agility and walking to Parkinson’s, but she didn’t lose her uncanny skill to aggravate the plum fool out of me! She could still come back with a put-down with laser accuracy–and to this day, I believe that some of her antics were on purpose and meant to get my goat.

On top of all this, add the frustrations of dealing with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, home health services, the check-out girl at the grocery store, your brother who won’t lift a finger to help…and yeah…your eye’s probably twitching by now.

What’s a caregiver to do?

Let it out! Stress is dangerous when it’s held inside. You have to get over your be a “nice girl/good boy” upbringing and start telling it like it is!

Five Ways to De-Stress Fast:

  • Ask yourself: Do you feel like laughing (insanely) Crying (okay, sobbing), or screaming (like a banchee, maybe in the privacy of your car). Do whichever feels best–for you–right now.
  • Tell someone the truth. Caregiving freed me to confront someone who was not treating me or my mother properly. I was too tired and too impatient to put up with being disrespected. You don’t have to curse at them, or yell, but sometimes people need to know how they’re treating others. It’s so freeing to finally say what’s on your mind!
  • Break something, slam a door, hit a pillow with a baseball bat. Life is unfair, it’s hard, and we offer ourselves no physical relief. No wonder we turn to prescription drugs and alcohol just to allow ourselves to unwind. Slamming a door is much healthier than swallowing a pill.
  • Make sure you aim your emotions at the disease and not at the person you love. Yes, they can really get on your last nerve, but you two are a team–so don’t fire those flaming arrows at each other.
  • Encourage your care buddy to get mad, too! Have a “We hate Alzheimer’s day!” Make a list of all the sucky things you don’t like about the disease and your life right now. Throw some old cups against an outside wall of your house. Take turns blasting your car horn. After a while, anger offers release and laughter follows.

Don’t be afraid of your emotinos. You’re doing a lot right now–caring for others is a big deal–on your heart and your head. Laughing, crying, and screaming is emotionally cleansing. Remember what it feels like after a good cry? Or a good scream? It feels like you’re 20 pounds lighter and you’re breathing pure mint. Go ahead, give yourself permission.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, 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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