We consider Caregiver Support as a crucial part of patient care, since we understand the awesome responsibility of a Caregiver. This Newsletter has a twofold purpose, to educate you as a Caregiver and to support you by encouraging you, standing by you and helping you find the resources you may need.
If you have filled out our Caregiver questionnaires, you’ll remember that we ask about Caregiver Burden (how much of a load do you feel you are bearing), Caregiver Mastery (how well do you feel you are performing your Caregiving duties), and Caregiver Satisfaction. All your answers are added up to give us an indication of your level of Caregiver Stress.
Why do we want to know if you are stressed? Your stress level tells us you are doing just fine or it may tell us that you may need some assistance, or that your loved one may need a level of care that despite your hard work, love and devotion, you are not able to provide for her or him.
Taking care of the Caregiver is equally as important as taking care of the patient. If you get worn out due to your Caregiving duties, who will care for your loved one? Who will take care of you and your other responsibilities? I know many of you worry about this.
YOU ARE IMPORTANT!!!
It is easy to forget your own value and worth when your time, energy and resources are poured into the care of your loved one. It’s not bad to focus on them, but it’s healthier for both of you if you are able to retain your own identity by taking time for yourself, knowing when you need a break and being aware of your own signs of stress.
Coping with Caregiver Stress
A few ideas of how you can take time for yourself and lower stress:
ÿ Continue with your usual hobbies, maintain your own likes and interests that make you, YOU
ÿ Don’t hesitate to ask for help (you are not the Almighty, even if you’ve assumed that responsibility) as they say, let go and let God. (Or at least the neighbor, aid, or another relative)
ÿ Be kind to yourself (you are not expected to know everything or to do everything)
ÿ Make peace with your circumstances (holding on to anger, regret, disappointment or sadness can add more of a negative weight on your already heavy load. Let go of those too).
ÿ Eat right
ÿ Keep you mind active
ÿ Meditate on the positives
ÿ Reminisce with your loved one
ÿ Remember to laugh
ÿ Have a support system of those in similar circumstances
Know that you are not alone!
“One of the most difficult things for a Caregiver to do is make the decision your love one can no longer drive” Pam Wright, MN.
Here are some signs of risky behind-the-wheel behavior:
■ does the driver neglect to buckle up? Going without a seat belt might be a bad habit — or it might indicate a poor fit or trouble fastening a belt.
■ does the driver have difficulty working the pedals? A driver, who lifts his or her leg to move from the accelerator to the brake, rather than keeping a heel on the floor and pressing with the toes, may be signaling waning strength.
■ does the driver have difficulty merging on freeways or turning onto busy streets? Vision problems may impair his or her ability to judge the speed and distance of approaching traffic.
■ when merging, changing lanes or backing up, does the driver rely only on the mirrors, rather than turning fully to check the blind spots over his or her shoulder? Failing to do so may be a bad habit ― or may indicate the onset of stiffness in the neck and back.
■ does the driver have trouble seeing other vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians, especially at night? Deteriorating night vision or sensitivity to glare may be the cause.
■ does the driver seem to ignore or “miss” stop signs and other traffic signals?
■ does the driver react too slowly to sirens and flashing lights of emergency vehicles?
■ does the driver weave, straddle lanes, drift into other lanes, or change lanes without signaling?
■ does the driver position the car improperly for turns (especially left turns), or attempt turns from the wrong lane?
■ do other drivers honk or pass frequently, even when the traffic stream is moving relatively slowly? This may indicate difficulty keeping pace with fast-changing conditions.
■ does the driver tend to park far from his or her destination? A problem judging distances or making tight maneuvers may underlie the fear of closer parking spots.
■ does the driver get lost or disoriented easily, even in familiar places?
■ do you find yourself giving directions or prompting the driver frequently?
■ has the driver been issued two or more traffic tickets or warnings in the past two years? Tickets can predict the risk for collision.
■ has the driver been involved in two or more collisions or “near-misses” in the past two years? Rear-end collisions, parking lot fender-benders, and side collisions while turning across traffic rank as the most common mishaps for drivers with diminishing skills, depth perception, or poor reaction time.
For more information:
Anton E. Coleman, MD – Behavioral Neurology & Neuroendocrinology.
Caregiver Support Services
Dana MacMillan, BA
Contact : (239) 963 5549