Caregivers, Are You Focusing on Problems–or Solutions?

December 30, 2009 at 1:57 am 1 comment

Some days, caregiving can feel like you’re stumbling from one problem and challenge to the next.

When I was caring for my mom who had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer‘s, I felt like I couldn’t do enough, give enough, or fix the pain or loss we all faced. It was too easy to feel like a failure–but the more I gave into the frustration and apathy, the more it grew. I found that the best thing I could do was to prioritize–focus on the little things I could do–and find little solutions along the way.

What’s your biggest caregiving challenge?

Is it getting the doctors to listen to you and give your loved one the meds or treatment they need?

Is it getting along with your elder parent?

Is it dealing with the challenging behaviors of Alzheimer’s?

Is it being there–for your mom, your kids, your husband–and even having a sliver of time left for yourself?

 3 Steps to Help You Focus on Solution: 

  • List exactly what the problem is and every little part.
  • List several possible solutions.
  • Break the solution down to small steps.
  • Do one step. Pick one that’s doable, that interest you–something you think you have a chance at accomplishing.
  •  Now  leap-frogging over the problem and focus on this one small part of the solution.
  • Celebrate your small victory. If you were able to make your situation even the tiniest big better, you have something to feel good about.

It may not be the ideal solution, and it probably won’t solve the bigger issue, but impact is power.  You start to feel hope again. This fuels you to try another small step, and another.

For example, my mom was extremely difficult at night. They call it sundowning. It wreaked havoc on me and my family and left me exhausted and addled. Sundowning has so many different components (pacing, agitation, wrecking her room, not sleeping, paranoia, trying to escape, stubbornness–not staying in the bed) that focusing on the problem(s) were too much.

But I did find that my mother was calm in the morning. I started fixing her a hearty breakfast, bathing her, and then napping in the chair beside her as she watched Andy Griffith reruns. She and I would usually nap, and I made sure she was up by noon or 1pm so she would still have a chance of sleeping at night. It wasn’t perfect, but I could catch an hour or so of sleep, which was a godsend. That was only a small part, but it was the only thing that worked at the time. The more sleep I got, the better I felt–and finding one small solution sparred me to look for more.

It may feel good to gripe about your problems to a girlfriend or your spouse. Griping, vent is good at times, necessary–but it’s not as good as making your life–and your loved one’s life better. By focusing on the solution and breaking down into small, doable steps, you might find you can make a real difference.

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

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. VinonaGrupServicesUSA  |  December 30, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Hi Carol,
    My name is Andy Johnson, from Brockton, Mass. I am also a caregiver and I understand first hand the problems caregivers go through, but one thing though that I will say is that you or no one can be a caregiver if he or she does not have what it takes.
    It is a very stressful, tiring, demanding job, but it is very rewarding if you like it. It easy if you like the job of caring for the sick and like working with people. If you like working with people and do not think about yourself all the time, then caregiving is easy. Caregiving sometimes requires one to sometimes forget about themselves and focus on someone else.
    This is not a job for the weak hearted; caregiving is for those who want to help others feel better about themselve, and worthy.
    I will like to hear from you some day!


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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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