13 Tips for Caregivers

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Throughout our lifetimes most of us will be called upon to help others. This caregiving can be as brief as a few days for someone who is in recovery from an illness or injury or, as in the case of someone who is terminally ill or experiencing conditions such as Alzheimers, can require our commitment of care for many years to come.When Margaret and I learned of her Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer we did not know we would have only three months together. There was very little time to adjust to the shock AND educate myself about what she would need from me and from others. My learning curve was steep and often managed in what felt like total darkness.Since then I have met many people who share my experience and many who are only just beginning their caregiving journeys. This ebook - 13 Tips for Caregivers - is for them.These 13 blog posts and published articles are intended to offer thoughts, tips, and resources that could not only reduce the angle of your learning curve but also remind you that you are not alone.

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<ul><li><p> 13 Tips for </p><p>Caregivers </p><p> By J. Dietrich Stroeh </p></li><li><p>Introduction Throughout our lifetimes most of us will be called upon to help others. This caregiving can be as brief as a few days for someone who is in recovery from an illness or injury or, as in the case of someone who is terminally ill or experiencing conditions such as Alzheimers, can require our commitment of care for many years to come. Whether we share the same residency with the one we are taking care of or provide our care from long distances, our efforts are often in addition to those already required of us from our full work/family schedules. When Margaret and I learned of her Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer we did not know we would have only three months together. There was very little time to adjust to the shock AND educate myself about what she would need from me and from others. My learning curve was steep and often managed in what felt like total darkness. Since then I have met many people who share my experience and many who are only just beginning their caregiving journeys. This ebook - 13 Tips for Caregivers - is for them. These 13 blog posts and published articles are intended to offer thoughts, tips, and resources that could not only reduce the angle of your learning curve but also remind you that you are not alone. Best, J. Dietrich Stroeh www.threemonthsbook.com Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing Revised Caregiving isnt Magic: Its An Art </p><p> 2015 by J. Dietrich Stroeh </p><p>All rights reserved. Published 2015 </p></li><li><p>13 Tips for Caregivers </p><p>A Look Back At Love </p><p>Caregiving Changes Your Life </p><p>The Four Bs of Caregiving </p><p>Dual Caregiving </p><p>Long Distance Caregiving </p><p>Griefs Ebb and Flow </p><p>Get Engaged </p><p>Have a Sense of Humor </p><p>Caregiving Tips for Students </p><p>March Madness Caregiving </p><p>Caregiver Tell Your Story </p><p>Caregiving Tips for Students </p><p>November Caregiving </p><p>Living Through the 11th Hour </p></li><li><p> A Look Back With Love </p><p>Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing excerpt As I write this, it has been almost six years since I lost my wife Margaret to pancreatic </p><p>cancer, and in some ways, it still seems fresh. At the same time, change has been an </p><p>important part of the healing process. Until you have gone through the kind of loss that </p><p>breaks your heart and tries to break your spirit, you cant know what gets you through it. </p><p> The day she died, I sat with my two business partners on each side of me on a bench in the back yard, John Stuber and Al Cornwell asking Now what do I do? over and over again. I was completely stunned and drained. My mind did not work right. I was lost. Yes I functioned, but my world turned black. It was very hard to understand that I would never see or talk to Margaret again. That was one of the most difficult things to grasp. The emptiness and hurt would be with me for months, without much let up. I woke up and slept with it. The only way I could sleep was by taking a sleeping pill and then sometimes that did not work. </p><p> When I ask myself how I got through this, I realize that the process began way before I was even vaguely aware of it. I had to try and write Margarets obituary. The day after she died I spent much of the day sitting and attempting to put into words her amazing life, and at the end of the day I had failed terribly. However taking the time to write it distracted me from the reality I was facing and helped me to face the loss head on. Fortunately, the will and trusts - the legal end of things - had already been taken care of. So I turned to Margarets memorial service. I selected a date and planned for arrangements at the Lutheran Church in Novato. On the pastors advice, it was agreed that we would use the church chapel and the adjacent large meeting room to accommodate the large number of people who were expected to attend. I am grateful that I decided on a TV monitor as well. With standing room only, this allowed people outside the church to participate. Then I selected music by musicians she enjoyed: Andrea Boccelli and Sarah Brightman. My daughter Christina wrote a song that was sung by another daughter, Jody. Amazing Grace was song by my granddaughter Alex. Sharing the memorial details with others was good for all of us, including good friend and Marin County Supervisor Judy Arnold who did the euology. All of this helped me get back into a frame of mind where what I was actually making things happen. </p></li><li><p> I started working longer hours at the office. While Margaret was sick, I was working </p><p>between 20 and 30 hours a week, but now I was up to 40 hours a week. It was good </p><p>because I was busy. Again, my focus was on moving ahead. I dont think it is healthy to sit </p><p>in a dark room by yourself alone with a heavy heart. You need to get out, stay busy, push </p><p>yourself just a little past what feels comfortable. </p><p> The thing that is true while you cared for your loved one is still true after they are gone, life </p><p>keeps rolling along. And while people are even more willing to cut you slack and </p><p>sympathize with your loss, the world keeps spinning. You have to be in it. Its important to </p><p>begin talking with people, putting yourself into situations where you will move beyond </p><p>your loss a little. In the days and the weeks following Margarets death I honestly didnt </p><p>know what I could do and I thought my life was destined to be pretty difficult. But I worked </p><p>hard, put myself out there a bit and gradually things seemed to get better. I started going to </p><p>functions, getting back into things that had been important to me before Margaret got sick. </p><p>A number of months after I started getting back into work, I had dinner with a woman who </p><p>regularly attended business related meetings, thinking the companionship was nice. From </p><p>that friendship, over time, a romance grew. Today, we are happily married. </p><p> I have no regrets and Im not ashamed that I found someone after I lost Margaret. Just </p><p>because I have found love with another person, doesnt mean that I stopped loving </p><p>Margaret or that our life together loses something. To be honest, if I hadnt been so happy </p><p>with Margaret, I dont think there is any way that I could have become involved with </p><p>anyone else. </p><p>Losing Margaret was the hardest thing I have ever gone through emotionally, when I was in </p><p>the middle of it, trying my best to take care of her on the outside and struggling mightily on </p><p>the inside, I didnt know how I was going to get through it. Now as I look back, I realize that </p><p>its a long process and maybe the most important thing you can do is put one foot in front </p><p>of the other, moving forward one day at a time. I dont think that means you move away </p><p>from your loved one. Rather, it means that your life keeps going and you take their love and </p><p>that experience with you. Adapting to change, especially when its after such a heart break </p><p>is never easy, but time does heal all wounds. We think happiness is an option when really </p><p>its a choice. </p></li><li><p>Caregiving Changes Your Life </p><p> Becoming a caregiver is not a responsibility that you take on lightly. As those close to you </p><p>begin to age, or experience the onset of a terminal illness you want to be there to take care </p><p>of them as their health declines. This isnt a burden, but rather a unique commitment that </p><p>comes with its own set of rewards and challenges. </p><p>The most difficult aspect for the caregiver is the changes you undergo after your loved one </p><p>has passed away. Here are some thoughts that might help: </p><p>Managing Emotions - Being a caregiver changes you as a person; it can and often does </p><p>play with your emotions in ways that you never thought possible. The boatload of feelings </p><p>that you will experience at this time range from sadness to frustration to joy and even </p><p>stress. The devotion that you showed your loved can lead to a new bond between you that </p><p>is stronger than the one you had before. This can make that persons death even that much </p><p>more painful. Its a good idea, if you can, to make sure to feel your emotions, but dont let </p><p>them consume you. </p><p>Dont Feel Guilty - Guilt does no one any good and can often leave you feeling worse for </p><p>wear. When the person that you have been caring for each and every day passes, it is </p><p>normal if you feel a bit of relief. The fact is that you have been on a caregiving journey that </p><p>can be exhausting. There are many different stages of grief and everyone handles this </p><p>process in their own unique way. It is fine for you to cope in any manner that you see fit as </p><p>long as it is healthy both physically and emotionally. </p><p>Dont Let Grief Consume You - Not only will you be grieving the loss of the person that </p><p>you once knew, but you will also be coping with your lost role as a caregiver. Allow yourself </p><p>time to adapt and adjust. You are now entering into a new phase of your life. From there </p><p>you will see how being a caregiver can change you views about life and about the </p><p>relationships you have with others. </p></li><li><p>The Four Bs of Caregiving </p><p> Caregivers are dreamers. They look up to the stars in hopes of a miracle and in the midst of </p><p>that look for ways to live with an incredible amount of hope and faith. </p><p> To help themselves, caregivers seek feedback and advice from other caregivers. I recently </p><p>discovered the most heartwarming caregiving guide on The Caregivers Living Room from </p><p>fellow caregiver, Ozioma Egwuonu. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer and she battled </p><p>overwhelming grief. </p><p>A caregiver devoted to helping others, she created a guide that demonstrates how to create </p><p>resilience and balance in the face of a heartbreaking crisis. </p><p>Breathe: Holding your breath can be a knee jerk reaction when surrounded by chaos and </p><p>panic. Try to just let go and breathe. It will release endorphins and relax your nervous </p><p>system. </p><p>Break (Breakthroughs, Breakdowns): Breakthroughs are a moment of realization, an </p><p>epiphany that will leave you with a lesson learned. To achieve this valuable insight keep </p><p>open to possibilities as these are what lead to solutions. </p><p>Breakdowns are when you feel you have lost control. Find ways to safely release your </p><p>emotions. Crying and/or sharing them with others can diffuse them and provide great </p><p>clarity. </p><p>Balance: Allow time and space for both you and your loved ones needs. Create a priority </p><p>list and keep it updated as needs do change. </p><p>Believe: Every caregiver is a capable innovator. Challenge yourself to make the </p><p>extraordinary happen and push boundaries. In caregiving, you may invent new ways to </p><p>take care of your loved one. Along the way you may also discover opportunities to create </p><p>new memories together. </p></li><li><p>Dual Caregiving </p><p> Caregiving is a serious responsibility. There are many tasks associated with it, including </p><p>personal care, housekeeping, transportation and companionship. Personal care includes </p><p>administering medication, and personal hygiene. Housekeeping includes making the bed, </p><p>washing the dishes, preparing meals. Transportation involves assistance with getting your </p><p>loved one to appointments, companionship is all about being there when needed. </p><p>Today, many Baby Boomers are care giving children and parents. This responsibility is </p><p>coined as dual caregiving and these caregivers are often referred to as the sandwich </p><p>generation. Efforts to fulfill the caregivers role for both the generation before and after </p><p>you is double duty. </p><p>In all cases, the toughest job is time management. At times, conflicts may arise and </p><p>sacrifices may have to be made. Caring for an aging parent and raising a child </p><p>simultaneously will present certain challenges because of the different needs involved. Its </p><p>not unusual to feel like you are being pulled in two different directions. </p><p>Something to keep in mind with being a dual caregiver: Balance </p><p>Balance is important. Attending to the needs of more than one person (not to mention your </p><p>own is something that takes time to achieve. Along the way you have to make choices about </p><p>which needs are the most important in the moment. </p><p>School age children need to be prepared for school (breakfast, homework, school activities, </p><p>etc.). Consider enlisting the service of others like homework tutors, if possible. Develop </p><p>routines for the older generation so that hygiene and medications are regularly scheduled. </p><p>Dual caregiving can push your limits. Push back by expanding your capacity with time </p><p>management and the help of others. Along the way be sure to find respite for yourself. That </p><p>and moments of easy, simple joy will lighten your mood and remind you that you are </p><p>making a difference in the lives of those you love. And, no matter how tiring it can be, you </p><p>do it because of love. </p></li><li><p>Long Distance </p><p>Caregiving </p><p>Kindness, love &amp; loyalty are a few of the many traits that are necessary when providing </p><p>care for a loved one, especially long distance care giving. </p><p>If youre like most family caregivers, you might feel youre not ready, theres still too much </p><p>for you to learn before you actually start giving care. Yet, you care deeply about your family </p><p>members and would do anything to help them no matter how far away they are. I know, it </p><p>sounds like the end to a clichd retirement commercial: your loved one can no longer </p><p>maintain several aspects of his or her life and needs you to step in and aid them. </p><p>If you havent been a primary caretaker before, youll find out that its a full time job. Dont </p><p>get discouraged though, there are details that can be taken care of to make the situation </p><p>less stressful and allow you to be present for you loved one, even when youre not </p><p>physically there. </p><p>Also, you are not alone. There are many caregivers who live more than an hours travel </p><p>away. And its normal to feel anxiety and pressure when youre not close to your loved one </p><p>to be there whenever the need arises. </p><p>The good news is that you dont have to become a nursing expert, a superhero, or a saint in </p><p>order to be a good caregiver. With the right help and support, you can be a great caregiver </p><p>without having to sacrifice yourself in the process. There are things you can do to better </p><p>prepare for care giving emergencies, and ease the burden of responsibility. </p><p>Here are 3 tips to help you: </p><p> Schedule regular communication with your loved one. A daily email, text </p><p>message, or quick phone call can let your relative know that theyre not forgotten and can </p><p>give you peace of mind. </p><p> Set up an alarm system for your loved one. Because of the distance between </p><p>you, you wont be able to respond in time to a life-threatening emergency, so subscribe to </p><p>an electronic alert system. Your loved one can wear the small device and can use it to </p><p>summon immediate help. </p><p> Manage doctor and medical appointments. Try to schedule all medical </p><p>appointments together, at a time when youll be in the area. Take time to get to know your </p><p>loved ones doctors and arrange to be kept up-to-date on all medical issues via the phone. </p><p>Your relative may need to sign a privacy release to enable their doctors t...</p></li></ul>