“What Caregivers Need to Know,” an article in today’s “Parade Magazine,” offers advice on how caregivers can cope physically and psychologically. The article was written by Claire Berman. She is also the author of the book “Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents: How To Help, How To Survive.”
Here’s an excerpt:
“‘In caring for others, are caregivers neglecting the most basic self-care?’ asks NAC President Gail Hunt. ‘Are they getting their flu shots? Are they getting their mammograms? Are they getting their Pap tests? Or are they saying, ‘I don’t have time for that because I’m so immersed in caregiving’? The message has got to be: If you want to do this kind of caregiving, you need to be sure you get the most basic preventive health care for yourself.'”
Ms. Berman offers these coping strategies:
* Learn about the illness.
* Ask for help — and be specific.
* Maintain contact with friends.
* Seek assistance within your community.
* Keep the focus clear.
* Find support in a group.
* Enjoy life outside of the caretaker role.
* Appreciate the good moments.
Here’s a link to the article:
What Caregivers Need To Know
By Claire Berman
October 9, 2005
And copied below is a short excerpt on coping with the emotional issues raised by caregiving.
How Do I Deal With My Feelings?
Studies show that many people are better able to cope with the practical challenges of caregiving than with the emotional issues. Among those issues:
“I feel guilty.” Guilt is the most pervasive emotion of the caregiver—as much for the adult child who lives with a housebound parent as for the one who tries to manage things from a home across the country. We all feel we should be doing more, acting more loving, being more tolerant.
“I feel angry.” There is anger that a loved one should be so ill and needy, and resentment that our own lives have been turned around or that other family members aren’t pitching in. A conversation among siblings might solve the problem, but the angry caregiver thinks: “I shouldn’t have to tell them—can’t they see I’m exhausted?”
“I’m afraid.” We fear the progress of the disease and the difficulties yet to come. Often, we fear that we may not be up to the tasks required of us.
“I miss him.” It’s heart-wrenching to accept the waning powers of a loved one who now requires assistance just to make it safely through a day. We mourn the loss of the person we once knew.
These feelings are normal. The key is to acknowledge them and recognize that they are universal. Most important, don’t feel ashamed of your emotions. It might help to discuss them with a trusted friend.