Calgon, Take Me Away!!!

Caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you’re a caregiver, take steps to preserve your own health and well-being.

Definition According to Webster:  care·giv·er
ˈkerˌɡivər/

noun

North American
noun: caregiver; plural noun: caregivers
  1. a family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.
Definition According to A Caregiver:
  1. a punching bag
  2. an oppressive, overpowering, demanding and practical individual that is insane enough to keep coming back for more
  3. the main character in “Groundhog Day”

Seriously, we need to find some humor in this.  Laughter is the best medicine, right?  We have one of the toughest jobs.  I would venture to say that most people honestly do not know what we go through physically, emotionally and mentally.  How many of us wonder if WE have a mental problem!  Think about it.  We have just come through an episode with our loved one.  Perhaps we are in the eye of the storm and we know at any moment the hurricane will hit again.  We are trying to process the event, make some sense of feelings and emotions and events that we just don’t understand.  We can easily do our own swirling.  Our friends and lifelines who support us have NO idea how to help us while we have NO idea how to help the one who is causing all the ajida.

Let’s look at the signs of stress. If you have at least three of these it is time to let “calgon take you away.”  And if you really don’t know what that means, you are of the more modern generation.  For us more mature caregivers y’all are with me here!

Risk factors for caregiver stress include:

  • Being female
  • Having fewer years of formal education
  • Living with the person you are caring for
  • Social isolation
  • Having depression
  • Financial difficulties
  • Higher number of hours spent caregiving
  • Lack of coping skills and difficulty solving problems
  • Lack of choice in being a caregiver

Now the signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Becoming easily irritated or angry
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain or other physical problems
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications

So, tally it up peeps!  Now what do we do about it?  I would love to say, okay I am now going to be a man.  I am going to become an MD-PHD-EFG-ESQ-ECT.  I am going to move out.  I am going to follow my best friend around and listen to Bob and Tom 24-7.  I will go out and buy my lottery ticket and wait to win!  I am going to add hours to my day and finally watch every season of ER on Netflix.

Strategies that might actually help:

  1. Accept help.
  2. Focus on what you are able to provide.  We are not perfect and we can only do what we can do at any given time.  So forgive yourself.
  3. Set realistic goals.  Prioritize.  Make lists.  I love lists!!  Learn to say “NO”
  4. Get connected.  There are resources out there for you and for them.
  5. Join a support group.  We need validation and encouragement.  Find people who know what you are going through and support each other.
  6. Look for social support.  Take walk with friends.  Be around people who are non-judgemental and will offer you emotional support.
  7. Set personal health goals.  Eat.  Sleep. Drink (water preferably) and exercise.  I have found that a good kick boxing class along with yoga make a nice balanced routine.
  8. See you doctor.

Well, I am going to take my bath now.  I will be praying for all of you that you find some peace and relaxation.

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