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Caregiver Stress
In Counseling
rgainer
Contributor
Sep 19, 2019
Mark, great question, and thank you for your care for your wife. Tips to reduce Caregiver Burnout By Russell Gainer, LCSW Because 60% of Caregivers will die before the patient due to stress and self-neglect (not taking meds or seeing their doctors), a Caregiver MUST make THEIR needs and self-care a priority. Like the airline industry says, “In an emergency, place the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST before assisting others in need.” This is not selfish, it is an imperative. If you become impaired, you cannot engage as a caregiver and then YOU become a patient and need someone to help you! The biggest thing is to Ask for help. Many well-meaning friends and family will often say, “If there is anything I can do, just let me know,” and in that moment, everyone experiences an awkward pause. The Caregiver because they are thinking, “You have NO idea how overwhelmed I am – which of the many things can you help with?!”, and the asker is thinking, “Just don’t ask something I can’t do!” Because people WANT to help, we need to make it easy for them. 1) Make a List – take a pad of post-it notes, write single tasks on each sheet and post these to the fridge (mow the lawn, replace the batteries in the smoke detector, replace the AC filters, change the sheets in the guest room, etc.). When the question is asked, direct them to the fridge and say, “Thank you so much! There is a list of things I just can’t get to; please take your pick - and I really appreciate your asking!” 2) Make a schedule – using a calendar, identify 3 dates - one afternoon each week, one evening each week and one weekend each month. Mark these as TIME OFF and suggest your family and/or friends choose a date which fits their schedule and sign up to give you the Time Off from your care giver duties. Use the break to get your chores done, run errands, pay bills or just stay away. You may not leave the house, but just sequester yourself away for a little R&R. 3) Set Boundaries and limits – you cannot do it all! One of my favorite quotes is, “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” Know your personal limits and ask for help before you reach the point of no return. 4) Plan ahead – there are many miles ahead on this journey, let’s plan for the trip! This is a marathon, and not a sprint, you will have to pace yourself and get support. Invite friends and family to join in a discussion about what’s coming. You may not know the answers, but this will prompt you and your support system to begin searching for the answers. To the best of your ability, identify the following Mile Markers. What will it look like when this time comes? How will I/we know when it is time to take this step? How will I/we respond to each? a. When will the patient need to stop driving? b. When paid CG’s will be used? c. When (and not if!) will facility placement will occur? 5) Get Outside Help – there are many sources for support; The Alzheimer’s Association, the Area Agency on Aging, Caregiver Support Groups, a Counselor, Elder Law attorneys, a Geriatrician, an Aging Life Care specialist, and others. Using these resources will help you to plan and navigate the course ahead. Overall, know you are not alone, there are many others on similar paths, and many people and agencies willing to provide direction, support and assistance. A wise person seeks the counsel of others and does not journey alone. Safe Travels!
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rgainer

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