Caregiving

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    As a caregiver, try to rethink frustrating situations and respond to them differently. The way you think can affect how you feel. A common negative thought pattern is to discount the positive. You overlook the good things about your circumstances and yourself. For example, you might not allow yourself to feel good about caregiving by thinking, “I could do more” or “anyone could do what I do.”

    A healthy adaptive response would be: “Caregiving is not easy. It takes courage, strength, and compassion to do what I do. I am not always perfect, but I do a lot and I am trying to be helpful.” 
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    The types of services covered at home when you are dying will depend on your insurance. If you are in a home hospice program, a home health aide may be available to assist. If your insurance does not cover a home health aide and you and your loved ones wish to pay privately for these services, you can do so. Your social worker can usually assist in arranging these services. 
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    One of the scariest aspects of taking care of a sick spouse is not knowing how long it will be until things get back to normal -- or wondering if they ever will. As a caregiver, you'll likely have a mix of emotions, from worry to stress to guilt. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed.

    If your spouse is unable to work, you may need to provide for the household. This can be difficult if you need to care for your spouse 24/7. Financial problems, in addition to an ill partner, can place a tremendous amount of stress on a caregiver.

    It’s crucial that you learn to take care of yourself and manage your mental well-being. You may feel like you have no time for yourself -- but it's important to add some small self-care steps to your daily routine. You could try:
    • deep breathing in bed for 10 minutes in the morning or at night
    • taking a short walk outdoors
    • watching your favorite TV show when you get home in the evening
    The most important thing to remember is that you don't need to go it alone. Caring for a sick loved one may be a new experience for you, and your friends or family members may have trouble understanding what you are going through. You might think that no one knows what it's like, and you may be tentative to take advice and accept sympathy for your situation.

    Finding a support network can make all the difference. It can keep you positive and emotionally healthy. Find another caretaker to talk to online or in a community support group. You could also turn to a caring friend.

    It's important not to keep your feelings bottled up. Consistently talk to people you love and trust. If you feel that you are burdening them or aren't feeling understood, you might find it helpful to see a professional therapist, who can offer you unbiased guidance. They are trained to help you deal with situations like this and have likely dealt with others in similar circumstances.

    This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.
     
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    A Geriatric Medicine, answered on behalf of
    Adult children who recognize short-term memory loss in their parents must remember that it is up to them to be responsible for how they interact with their parents. You may have to change your behavior and reactions. If your parent is repeatedly asking the same questions, simply provide the answer without correcting him or her. Make sure you are not using a condescending tone. Despite your parent’s cognitive impairment or decline, you still need to treat him or her with respect and dignity.
     
    Using simple directions, pictorial clues and written reminders can help your parent with memory tasks. When you give directions, make them as simple and clear as possible. Speak in short sentences and repeat directions, when requested. One-step directions are best.
     
    Your parent’s cognitive changes will affect your child-parent interactions. Many aging parents struggle with having to depend on their children, especially when they have always been independent and in control. Do your best to allow your parent to maintain his or her self-respect and dignity. 
     
    Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
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    Children who are grieving may act out with anger, tantrums, play-acting like a baby, or reluctance to participate in activities (such as social activities or school). A child may appear to be fine and then may have an outburst of emotion. Or a child may lash out with anger at close friends or family members.

    For some children, the experience of grief is much more internal, and a child may act as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened, sometimes to an extreme degree. Even for emotional children, there may be moments when the child seems unfeeling about the loss and may vocally judge others for feeling emotional.

    Children may also obsess over the details of the death, the funeral and the person who died. They may repeatedly tell the story of how the person died or what happened at the funeral. They may have an instinct to impersonate the person who died, or to talk about the person constantly.
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    If you’ve never worked with an individual with a disability, it’s not uncommon to approach the person and present a question to his parent, spouse or friend or caregiver sitting next to him rather than directly to the individual with the disability. This is an instinct that we have to overcome. Showing respect to the individual with the disability is paramount. Take the time to ask the question directly. Also note that the answers you get will give you direction as to how you can adapt to accomplish the task at hand.

    Parents and guardians: Overprotective parents can create fear in a child whose only disability is blindness. If these parents do everything for the blind child, the child may never learn to be independent and may lack confidence to take on challenges when he or she gets older.

    Social isolation and sedentary activity: A majority of children and adults with disabilities lead sedentary lifestyles. Persons born with a disability will generally have led a life where adaptation comes naturally, yet they may still lead isolated or sedentary lives. A person who acquires a disability must first accept the loss of ability or abilities and the associated challenges, and then learn to adapt to a new reality. These people tend to respond more negatively. One’s identity has a lot to do with how one handles his disability. A child growing up having to use a wheelchair or walker will tend to be better adjusted and accepting of who he is and his abilities than someone who suddenly loses mobility due to a traumatic event, accident or injury.

    Depression and suicide: There is also a greater incidence of depression, anger, alcoholism, drug abuse, resentment and suicide among individuals with disabilities, especially traumatic disabilities. Suicide is the most dramatic avenue of escape as the individual gives up or chooses not to live because he or she perceives him- or herself to be a burden to family or friends.

    Anger: There are three words that sum up what you will need to have when working with individuals who have not fully accepted or adjusted to their disability. They are patience, understanding and compassion.

    Peer Pressure: Peer pressure can lead a person to evaluate himself by comparing his ability to perform a skill against that of a person without disabilities. This can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Be prepared to set expectations and watch for external influences that will affect the individual's perceptions and your own.
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    The first step of caretaking is making sure your partner's basic physical needs are being met. Depending on the condition, your significant other may be stuck in bed for most of the day with limited ability to engage in simple tasks, such as cooking, bathing and dressing. You may need to rearrange your work schedule and other responsibilities so you can prepare meals, draw warm baths and help your loved one get dressed.

    Remember, you don't have to do it perfectly -- and you don't have to do it all yourself. Ordering takeout or hiring cleaning help is acceptable, as is asking friends and relatives to help. Avoid getting overwhelmed by the daily tasks. Consider designating one day a week for laundry and cooking meals that can be frozen and reheated later.

    In addition, if your partner's illness requires frequent trips to see a doctor or stays in the hospital, you may find yourself spending a lot of time in unfamiliar environments. Getting to know the staff at the medical facilities by being friendly and considerate may help make the experience more comfortable for everyone.

    One dilemma you may face is whether to stay overnight at a hospital with your spouse for an extended time or to go home and sleep. When making that personal decision, you need to consider if you will be able to get the rest you need in a hospital environment and still have the energy to cope with your new responsibilities.

    This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.