I appreciate Christine Scott’s series,Laura’s Story, where first she recalls her sister’s birth and slow development and then the impact of her seizures and her battle with cancer. Sometimes the trials and health concerns seem to be never ending, causing stress and fatigue to the individual and the caregiver. In part three Christine wrote, “Yesterday I asked my mom how she did it and she said, ‘You just have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and take it one step at a time.’ Then she smiled and added, ‘I’m made of good pioneer stock where the fittest survive.’”
Both statements are true, but what if you’re in a slump and can no longer pull yourself up by the bootstraps? I imagine every caregiver has periods where stress, exhaustion and/or depression set in. If those feelings last for an extended period of time, medical attention may be necessary. Stress and depression are treatable disorders. If you want to help prevent burnout, consider turning to the following resources I found on http://www.webmd.com/women/caregiver-recognizing-burnout?page=3#1 for help with your caregiving:
Home health services—These agencies provide home health aides and nurses for short-term care, if your loved one is acutely ill. Some agencies provide short-term respite care.
Adult day care—These programs offer a place for seniors to socialize, engage in a variety of activities, and receive needed medical care and other services.
Nursing homes or assisted living facilities—These institutions sometimes offer short-term respite stays to provide caregivers a break from their caregiving responsibilities.
Private care aides—These are professionals who specialize in assessing current needs and coordinating care and services.
Caregiver support services—These include support groups and other programs that can help caregivers recharge their batteries, meet others coping with similar issues, find more information, and locate additional resources.
Aging services—Contact your local Agency on Aging or your local chapter of the AARP for services available in your area such as adult day care services, caregiver support groups, and respite care.
National organizations—Look in a phone directory or search online for local agencies (such as Family Caregiver Alliance), chapters of national organizations dedicated to assisting people with illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease or stroke. These groups can provide resources and information about respite care and support groups.
What has been your experience with the above suggestions? How do you prevent burnout? Sharing your experiences in the comment box can help another caregiver.
I’ll bet most of us have had times in our life when we felt our circumstances were hopeless and the entire world seemed to be shouting “no” at us. In my article,Renewed Hope, I wrote about one of the darkest times in my life. After six weeks of worrying and watching Mark go through one crisis after another, any one of which could have taken his life, I got discouraged and wondered if my hope in his life and recovery was misplaced. The doctors, nurses and therapists were not hopeful and gave no encouragement.
I took my questions and concerns to a higher physician and the only one who really knew what Mark’s outcome would be. I received confirmation that my hope was not misplaced and I would seemiracles. However, I felt it was important to talk to Mark about my concerns. In the previous six weeks I thought if Mark died—I would also. I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I thought it would be impossible to live without him or raise our two children alone. It would have been awful and thankfully our path didn’t go that direction, but I also realized through this experience that death wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. I needed to let Mark go in my heart if it was his time. Living had to be his choice and not mine. It took time, but I finally concluded that living had to be the best option for him and not just for me.
Five things this dark experience taught me:
Learn to accept what I cannot change. Accepting doesn’t mean giving up or surrendering to the situation. It means to seek knowledge and understanding of all the possibilities and giving my greatest effort to accomplish what’s best.
Pray for divine help and realize Gods understanding of the circumstances is better than mine.
Find satisfaction in knowing I did my best to make the situation better. The outcome may be different from what I expected or hoped for, but realizing I gave my all makes it easier to accept.
Find a purpose for the circumstances and make something valuable out of it. For me sharing our story and experience with the hope it’ll encourage someone else gives it purpose.
Do not compare my life to others. Doing this always leads to discouragement and instead of being grateful for what I have, I’m wishing for what someone else has. It’s a complete waste of time which is better spent appreciating what I do have.
In my previous post “The Unthinkable,” I told about the day of our car accident which resulted in Mark’s Traumatic Brain Injury. When the unthinkable happens it’s easy to get caught up in the “what ifs.” What if Mark hadn’t gotten the job in Ogden? What if we had stayed in bed as I was tempted to and postponed our home search for a day with better weather? What if we’d stayed with the realtor or skipped lunch? What if Mark was driving instead of me? There are plenty of “what ifs” to think about, but that doesn’t change the reality of what happened, and I know it’s a waste of time and energy. I suppose it’s human nature to wonder if I’d done things differently—would life be better? Wallowing in regret only leads to discouragement and depression. My grandma used to call it “having a pity party.” When I recognize my brain is taking me to a pity party I refuse to go.
If it crept up on me before I realized it, I leave the pity party by concentrating on the positives: I am so grateful we survived the car accident and were able to raise our two children. I’m so thankful they weren’t in the car with us because they might not have survived. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had since the car accident.
When I look for the positive, my eyes are opened to the good things I wasn’t paying attention to before. As I focus on the positive, I am consumed with appreciation for each family member and friend who has and still gives us so much love and support. When I think about the blessings, the experiences and the people we’ve met, I am in awe and my sadness turns to joy.
Our journey took a dramatic, unthinkable turn that day, a turn I did not expect nor could have prepared for. However, there is joy in this journey and at the top of the mountain there is a beautiful view.
So my tip for today: when you feel the “what ifs” coming on and your brain taking you to a pity party, refuse to go. If you’re already there, just leave by focusing on the positive and counting your blessings.