Making Me A Priority
"You Cannot Pour From An Empty Cup"
Defining the Challenge
Caregiver Stress Syndrome is real. It is most times undefined and dismissed as just stress that comes with these responsibilities. Here is where you can read more about this (Caregiver.com; The Caregiver Syndrome by Ron Ingber.)
"Caregiver stress syndrome is a condition characterized by physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It typically results from a person neglecting their own physical and emotional health because they are focus."
Just because you are a Caregiver does not mean you are sacrificing your well-being in order to preserve theirs. It is important to make yourself a priority, as well. It is important for you to keep your own routine doctor's visits just as much as the ones for the person you are caring for.
Your Well-Being (fka "Me Time) is just as important as the well-being of the person you are caring for. It would be considered abuse if you neglected to take them to the doctor when they are not feeling well or to focus on a particular need they may have, then why isn't it considered when Caregivers neglect themselves?
When you are scheduling appointments for your loved one, put yourself on the schedule, too. When you are creating reminders for them to take their meds or to have lunch, you should set them up for yourself, too.
Write them down and then call them out! By scheduling these events along with the ones for your parent, you are establishing expectations.
"Mom/Dad, at 11.30-when you take your nap, I am going to meditate for 15 minutes."
"Grandmom, after dinner while you watch your shows, I will be having a glass of wine and relaxing on the patio with (My Spouse name) for 30 minutes."
You are permitted to have some time for yourself. You are practicing "Self-Preservation." This does not make you a bad person. You have the strength to fight through the guilt.
The Practice of Self-Preservation
There are ways to combat Caregiver Syndrome. Its just like committing to a daily workout.
CREATE A ROUTINE - Write down your personal "must dos" and do them daily. For example:
6 AM - 6.30 AM stretching - meditating (Before Mom gets up)
Noon - Lunchish (Eat when Dad eats)
2 PM - 2:20 PM Take quick walk (while Dad naps)
7.30 - 8.30 PM Wine Time with my love (while Dad watches his shows)
EAT/HYDRATION - Keep your body fueled and hydrated!
TAKE SELF-INVENTORY - Pay attention to your body. If you do not feel well, consult with a physician. Schedule that doctors appointment and put it on The Schedule!
CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS - You do not have to face these challenges on your own. Ask a sibling to cover for you. Employ the services; temporarily of a Home Care agency-even if it just for a few hours so you can have a date night or girls night out. Use Living Care Facilities provide short term care services. If your loved one is able to travel, take a family trip.
BE REAL - Access your parent's or loved one's situation and condition realistically to determine if their care needs have changed. Do not wait until the last minute to make a change. Evaluate your options so you are ready when the time comes.
BE HONEST - Being a Caregiver will take a toll on you and your life. Your loved one's preservation should not come at the cost of your own. When you feel that it is no longer possible for you to perform the duties as the, its time to make a change in this arrangement - Moving them to a care facility, Bring in Full-Time Home Care Services, or Have another family member take over the responsibilities. This is not a sign of failure or neglect. It is being responsible.
Meet Debra Myers, Stress Management Consultant
"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first."
Debra Myers, Stress Management Consultant
Why is it necessary "to first give care to the caregiver?" My sister and I never thought about putting ourselves first while in the role as a Caregiver; but we should have. It might have changed the course for my sister.
Finding Debra is a gift. She brings into the focus the importance of sustaining our own energy levels while caring for someone.
Connect with Debra Myers in the Forum or on the Marketplace. Debra Myers certifications in Stress Management, Integral Yoga, (as well as transforming personal health challenges attributed to stress) has qualified her to assist successfully, for almost 10 years, clients with stress and anxiety related disorders at the Psychological Cooperative of Malec, Herring and Krause.
Meet Lissa Figgins, Women's Wellness Consultant
"really it's a matter of PRIORITY"
Lissa Figgins, Women's Wellness Consultant
It's hard to balance it all.......
Many women find it difficult to make time for their health with all that's on their plate- family, business, relationships, community...especially now with disrupted routines. You may think it's a matter of time, money or motivation, but really it's a matter of PRIORITY.
Connect with Lissa Figgins in the Forum or on the Marketplace. Lissa Figgins is the founder of Firmly Planted Wellness where she helps busy women like you prioritize your wellness with a simple 3-step plan you can finally turn knowing into doing to look and feel your best. With Lissa's help you can put health and wellness in the proper place, so you can better live out what you have been called to do.
You do not have to do this alone. Visit our Forum, to connect with different experts in a variety of services - stress management, wellness, grief support, medication management, patient advocacy, finance, geriatric care consultant, senior care advisors, and so much more.
These resources are available to support your while in this role as the Caregiver. Each of them has the potential to help you solve a challenge that you are facing. Take the opportunity to chat with them.
In addition to these amazing experts, rely on services provided through Home Care Agencies; whether it is for short-term or long-term. They do more than just provide patient care, they are also supporting you.
Call in a Home Care Agency, to allow you a long weekend getaway with your spouse or for a girls night out.
You and your spouse or life partner had plans, but now those plans have changed because your mother is moving in with you. Is your relationship prepared this? Have the two of you ever talked about the day when you'll be caring for a parent? Are they prepared to be a co-caregiver with you sharing in these responsibilities?
A mistake we, ourselves, make while in the process of finding a life partner is forgetting to talk about parents. Sounds strange, but it is a topic that is just as important as talking about having kids. It is information that is going to come into play in your life together, as a couple, so it should be something the two of you are planning for. The way to go about this planning process will depend on your Scenario.
Wedding vows should be changed - "For better, for worse and for when your parents move in with us."
We don't realize that when we become coupled there are other questions we should be asking on a date in addition to "Do you enjoy long walks on the beach, drinking Pina Coladas or getting caught in the rain." How about the question - "will you be OK with my parents moving in with us someday?"
My husband and I have been together over 24 years. Our first date was a long long time ago. I remember our first date. We were in our 20s at the time and it never crossed my mind to bring up talking about my parent's future living plans.
Why would this be important? I know the answer to this Now. It is because for each of us - those plans were going to be different. For my husband, his parent's future care plan would be going into a Living Care Facility, but for mine - they were going to move in with us!
Would this information have caused us not to get married, no! However, this conversation would have helped us become better prepared for when this time would come because we definitely weren't.
Our spouses become an integral part of our parent's Home Care Team. They are more than just your life partner now, they are a Co-Caregiver along with you.
Your relationship is going to change but what is most important is to hold on tight to each other, because together you will get through those difficult days.
I am thankful to my husband for stepping in when I couldn't and for being so understanding that this is only part of our Journey and we will have our time together one day in the future.
For Better, For Worse and For When Your Parent Moves In with Us
Get away? Yes, it is possible for you to have the opportunity to get-away with your spouse or life partner. Being a Caregiver is not suppose to be a life sentence. You just need to have a "Get-away Plan." Here are a few ways to go about it:
Rely on your Care Team! Arrange for your Home Care Agency to stay with your loved one. Home Care Agencies also provide overnight care services and 24/7 care services. They will take care of coordinating coverage and care duties while you are away.
Ask for some help from family members in coordination with a Home Care Agency. Work up a plan where during the day you have the Home Care Agency come in to stay with your parent then have a family member stay with them over night.
Create a Mini get away for your loved one also at a Respite Care Facility. Respite programs provide planned short-term and time-limited breaks for families. The cost for this is about $140 - $180 per day which includes meals. You may find a couple of benefits in this option. Not only does it allow for you to travel with a peace of mind but your loved one may enjoy the activities and social interactions. Who knows, maybe they will like it so much that they will want to move there....
Take your parent along with you on your trip. With the help of professional services, there are ways to travel with the elderly or someone with health conditions safely.
Just because you are a Caregiver does not mean you have to stop living your life. It is possible to fit in quality time with your spouse or life partner; but whether or not you bring your aging loved one along is up to you. You only have to be open and willing to employ solutions that create the best escape plan for you.
"Empowering travelers to manage health-related risks so they can say YES to travel opportunities and enjoy them to the fullest." Dr. Andrea Leschak, Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist.
Caregiver Preservation Efforts
Anastasia, Aging Parents Management
One thing that you must learn to overcome is pinching pennies when it comes to your self-preservation. Don't put money ahead of your own well-being. Unlike those bottles of wine, the Caregiver role does not get any easier with time.
Now that my sister and I are able to look back at our experience as Dad's Caregivers, we now see where some of our mistakes were made.
It is a common belief that the person we are caring for is the only priority - not true. The Caregiver's life is just as valuable so it is important to find balance which is possible with support, encouragement and resources.
Make it a priority to take a little time each day for yourself.
It is possible to get-a-way or have a girls night out by using resources such as a Home Care Agency or family members.