12 Steps to Self care activities are a must for your serenity when you’re caring for an aged parent.
As a family caregiver, the need for self care activities is a must to live a happy life. One self care idea that comes to mind is the Twelve Step Program for caregivers. Now we just need a self care plan.
The care plan I put in place is keeping myself involved with others who use this program actively in their life.
In the first place, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want serenity in this troubled world. The Twelve Steps and this miraculous program was developed by a bunch of drunks. It was years before people like us, who don’t drink or aren’t alcoholics can profit beyond belief by following the same steps.
The history of the Twelve Steps provides a sense of security and certainty and is vital in many peoples lives. My hope is that as you read this post and discover the meaning and practice of the Twelve Steps, you’ll find many different viewpoints. In fact, each step and self care activities are equally important and will help keep you sane. This will help you create your own path on your journey to recovery no matter what it is. We’re all recovery from something.
Some of us say we found the program, others say the program found us. No matter which way it was, if you practice the Twelve Steps every day you have the blueprint for a good life. Most importantly it can free us from many different things.
The Twelve Step program is not a human powered program. God is the main source of our power and our growth. It’s a spiritual program but it’s not religious. God makes himself known to us through these Steps without religion. As a matter of fact, it’s the best self care plan for me and it might be for you also once you study this post.
1. Admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care and direction of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings — holding nothing back.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make complete amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
We learn thru chaos and pain and that’s where the self care plan comes in handy.
We can’t control our lives or the lives of our family or friends. Under our own strength we have failed. Step One we admit this understanding. Step One is about recognizing that we are broken people. We can’t change or sometimes even recognize how broken we are by our self.
As Family Caregivers we’re responsible for a loved one’s care. Over time we can become broken and can barely take care of our self much less our elderly parent. What I’ve learned thru the caregiving journey and also studying the Twelve Steps I want to share the knowledge, wisdom and love. This has so freely been given to me over time from others working a 12 Step program also.
I’m grateful for being shown the way thru the doors of Al-anon around 12 years ago. I had no idea what I was getting myself into at that time because I did have an alcoholic in my life. However, the main reason I entered those doors was to find help learning to cope with my aging mother. Not to mention there wasn’t many caregiver support groups and still aren’t.
One night in the meeting I was told I would learn to love the alcoholic and my mother in a new way. I thought they were crazy but if it hadn’t been for my mom and the alcoholic I would’ve never discovered the dear friends I found within those rooms.
We don’t help each other just deal with the alcoholics in our life, we help each other with life itself.
Besides that, without the encouragement of a counselor who steered me to the al-anon meeting that night, I don’t know where I’d be today.
As we start on this journey together of learning how to use the Twelve Step Program to care for our self and our loved one, my prayer is that I can help one person and that’s you. You’re stronger than you think. I’m writing this article for myself as much as I’m writing it for you, understand that. I also need to be reminded daily of the chaos and craziness of this world and caregiving can bring into our life.
I’ve been a family caregiver for quite a few years caring for at least 4 family members. For instance, to this day I’m caring for my 100-year-old mother. Can you imagine the insanity that can come into my life? I’ve been deeply affected by friends I’ve met thru the years. The sharing of their stories comes wisdom.
We all have within us self care ideas…
The wisdom we need to make healthy and sane choices in the middle of all the challenges. That come with the responsibilities we carry on our shoulders everyday caring for a loved one.
Over the coming days my hope is to go thru each one of these steps here. I’ll break them down for you. I invite you to share with others.
We’re all looking for serenity and hope. We can find peace of mind. Doesn’t mean the challenges will go away but at least we know we aren’t alone. For instance, there are many other Family Caregivers dealing with many of the same issues we have. We can strive to maintain our tranquility on this path we’ve taken. Please join me next time as we delve into the First Step.
I promise you, it’ll touch your life in a good way. That is why I’ll share some of those self care ideas for caregivers that I’ve learned. Keep your heart open.
Feeling powerless over about everything in my life.
When I first heard of the Alzheimer’s Support Group I knew nothing about the program and I was feelilng powerless over my whole life. I wondered how this program was going to help me because mom had not been diagnosed with dementia. But we definitely had a problem and the problem wasn’t me. Lol.
I’d already done everything I could think of to take care of mom. I had given up my life. Given up my family and friends and didn’t go to any of the sports my grandchildren were involved in. Mom even got upset when a friend would call me on the phone and that eventually stopped also.
In the beginning I went to support meetings and they didn’t help. I ran out the door as soon as the meeting was over so mom wouldn’t feel alone. I didn’t even take time to just tell someone their story meant a lot to me. I gave my all to mom.
So, coming to the meetings, I was still skeptical how they’d help me. I thought if there was just one secret they could or would tell me that would stop the insanity of caring for an aging parent we’d live happily ever after. Well, here I am sharing the beginning of my journey towards sanity, starting as does any journey, with the 1st step.
The 1st step reads “Accept that I’m powerless over my aging parent I’m caring for and her declining health – my life will become unmanageable at times .”
I can really relate to the unmanageable part. If my life were manageable I wouldn’t have gone to those meetings in the first place. I wouldn’t be stressed out with my day. Powerless over my life? Heck, no! I was the adult daughter, who became the parent, so to speak. The one that Alzheimer’s had educated. I was in control! She was my aging mom and she should be thankful that she wasn’t in a nursing home.
I am powerless over the aging process and that’s why I need the 1st Step. I didn’t have the problem of being old, so I thought. Mom did. Why should I care what went on in the other people’s homes and that their life was out of control? This whole deal was about mom and about me.
I knew mom’s health was declining, but I didn’t know what was wrong with me. What happened to me? I knew I was angry, frustrated, hurt, depressed, mad and many other negative things, too many to mention. I’d put my children and grandchildren up on a back shelf and left them there. They didn’t need my constant attention, mom did.
I also put aside my support groups and my friends because I just didn’t have the time. I went to Silver Sneakers for exercise and my health. I gave that up also. And my friends felt like they were causing a strain on my life coming between mom and me and they seemed to disappear also. Mom needed my constant focus if she was to grow old with ease and enjoy her twilight years.
I didn’t want to admit that I was powerless over this caregiving journey.
Maybe saying those words would make everyone happy with me in the meeting room and if they were happy with me then maybe just maybe they’d tell me the secret of how they could laugh, joke and enjoy life even while caring for a loved one. So, I said the words. I tried to laugh with them and things seemed to get a little better.
But as time went on, it all hit the fan. I fell apart over and over and over. As a good daughter I just did what I thought I was suppose to do but when I was alone I bawled my eyes out and still do at times. I just had to do what was expected of me and what I thought God expected of me.
Unfortunately, mom keeps declining. Now she’s 100. I haven’t been able to attend the support meetings much at all and it sure shows. Well, that’s not all I’ve been thinking about. As I sit here many nights alone I wondered how I can pull this off. I don’t give my health any thought. I’m too busy making sure mom is taken care of and forgot I had health issues also.
Caring for mom and losing myself.
Now, I’ve never had the thought of hitting mom, or even putting her in a nursing home. I do sometimes wonder how much longer I can hang on but I just keep going. After falling apart one night recently and having my kids tell me that I have a lot of drama in my life a small voice spoke to me. And that voice had something to say that was very important.
It said the only thing anyone could have said to me that would make me stop and think. Very gently, lovingly, without any judgement or condemnation, the voice which I know was God asked me, “Donna, you keep going the way you’re going, what will happen to your relationship with your kids?”
I have always thought of myself a religious person but God’s quiet voice introduced me to spirituality. That’s when I knew that God was there for me and He hadn’t left me alone. That’s when I realized that if I honestly wanted relief I had to “stop talking and really start walking.”
I picked up the phone and called a friend of mine and I listened to what he had to say.
Then I called another friend from my support meeting and she validated what I’d just heard from my other friend, so I knew this was God helping me thru this. Now, I know I’m powerless for sure. That still small voice knew just what to say to stop my mind from playing tricks on me.
What the 1st Step has meant to me is I now know that if I’m meant to continue caring for mom alone till her death, will it still be hard? Yes. Does it upset me that I continue to care for mom alone? Yes. Will I let it eat me alive anymore? NO. Do I still feel I have to obsess about everything that happens here at home? No, not as much. I’m finally taking charge of my life, which I do have control over.
The only life I can control, MINE. Will it be hard and challenging? Yes. God didn’t give me this gift of caring for mom in order for me to run everyone else’s life. God didn’t bring me here to ruin my life or to punish me for past wrongs. He didn’t give me my life to waste on futile efforts. He gave me life in order to take charge of what I can…me.
The 1st Step has given me back a good relationship with myself.
It’s getting better with my kids. Mainly it’s given me a wonderful relationship with God, that I’ve never had before. It gave me many friends within the support groups. I’ve met many wonderful people just like me who are caring for an aging parent or loved one.
It gave me myself, with whom I’m getting more and more comfortable with. The First Step has taught me that other people have the right to make their own decisions, although I may not agree with, I must accept them to the best of my ability. This doesn’t mean I have to like those decisions and it doesn’t mean I can’t give my two cents once in a while. It means that my opinion is just my opinion.
A friend from the support group told me “Acceptance isn’t approval”. I must accept the fact that my mom is declining more with each passing day and I can’t stop it. I must accept the fact that other people don’t and won’t always be there to help me. The First Step is teaching me to finally allow myself to love everyone without judging and without feeling that I have to be judge, jury and executioner.
What can I do about this powerless stage of my life and mom’s life?
Nothing? I can continue to pray for mom and myself. I can continue to call people from the group and not have the guilt because I can’t go to the meetings in person. I’m learning to love mom in spite of everything I’ve gone thru in the last 16 years.
Does it still hurt? Yes, it does. Less now than before. I’ll more than likely still try to run things that aren’t mine to run. When I do, my life becomes unmanageable again and that’s when I’ll pick up that phone and call a support friend.
Here’s an analogy on being powerless over others and wanting to control other’s lives:
How silly it would be for a train engineer to try to run another train while running his own. And how much danger he’d be putting his own train, cargo and passengers in while doing so.
That’s what trying to run those other things or other people is like for me today. I may try for a while but I’ll soon realize how silly wasting time and how dangerous it is. Dangerous to myself, my family, my mom and others around me and I have to stop.
I can continue loving mom and be her protector whether or not I can control the aging process and I’m powerless over all that a caregiver deals with. Now that I’ve accepted the 1st Step I feel that if I must admit that I’m powerless, which of course I am, then I can do no less than love this wonderful person who is powerless over the aging process. Because this and prayer are the only things, and definitely the best things I can do for mom and myself.
Does God have a plan is an interesting subject. One day I was searching online for help with anxiety as a caregiver. I came across Guidepost “Called to Be a Caregiver.” It took my mind off of what was troubling me and I began reading about an interesting story of the cofounder of Home Instead Senior Care. They told their story how they were praying and one thing led to another and they started their company. I can just imagine how much bigger God’s plan was than Paul and Lori Hogan’s plans were for their life.
God’s plan, there’s only one way for us to find it and also the strength to carry it out.
photo credit Saundra Lucas Pardue
Jesus spent a lot of time alone in prayer. Maybe we family caregivers need to be more like Jesus. Jesus faced His crisis calmly. This is an area where I need a lot of practice. It would serve me well to follow Jesus example.
Only speak words of hope, encouragement and comfort.
Keep scripture close to your heart.
Finding joy in caregiving is part of God’s plan.
Caring for an aged parent can be a very lonely job so how do we find joy in our responsibilities?
We are honoring our parents. I believe turning our world upside down to care for our elderly parent has to be a divine assignment from God. There are many burdens we carry but, in the end, they will turn into blessings.
Caring for our parents is both challenging and rewarding. It may be a very painful experience and at the same time be one of the greatest blessing we could experience. Have you ever been mad at God for your situation?
Joy comes in the morning.
Is caring for our parents only thought about when there is a crisis or should it be planned for?
Caring for an aging parent doesn’t just affect you but the whole family. Should your parent come before your family? Wow so many things to think about.
Caregivers need to care for themselves first. I haven’t. It’s hard to do. I forget about myself. What about you?
The main important thing to learn about caring for your loved one is to turn our burdens over to God. If you’re like me I keep taking them back. I guess I must think I can do a better job. NOPE.
This is a subject that should be discussed way before a crisis occurs and you’re scrambling to come up with a plan. Start praying now and not at the last minute.
In the middle of the night I woke up in tears. Feeling so hurt because someone told me I had too much drama and said that I’m the one who chose to care for mom. This person is very close to me and I was broken. I cried until I couldn’t hardly breathe. Didn’t know how I was going to get thru the rest of the night I was so crushed. So I cried out to God this time for help. I’m telling you it was seconds. Glad God doesn’t leave me.
The next thing I know I picked up a small little magazine that I had from a support group I attend which was laying on the table right in front of me. I was sitting there wondering how I could calm myself down and I saw this book laying in front of me and I just picked it up. It was dated November 2012 and it was my life saver that night. I opened the cover and the title read “I can choose not to suffer.” I started reading and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was exactly what I needed at that very moment. Why are we surprised when God shows up?
I learned in a matter of minutes that I’m not special and that I’ll endure pain. I’ll endure heartache. Thank you, Jesus, for having my back at that critical moment when I didn’t know where to turn except to You and you had my back and healed my broken heart. There’s healing power in asking God for help and guidance. You can read that same article right here.
If you wonder what God’s plan is for you in all of this, read the scripture.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
The most effective caregiver who ever walked this earth was Jesus Christ. He took care of those who were forgotten.
Remember that as we’re providing care by reaching our hands out to our older parents we’re telling them they’re important to us.
God does have a plan for the Family Caregivers. LOVE, CARE and PRAY <3
Many family caregivers feel unappreciated at some time, it comes with the territory.
Family Caregivers often feel unappreciated, sad and their situation hopeless. This is what I hear when I talk to other adult children who are family caregivers who give up their life, their family and sometimes their career to care for our older parents. This can lead to resentment and lots of stress.
It’s more common than we can imagine. Now let me say that there are family and friends who know we have a tough job but the majority just don’t seem to understand this fact.
I’m a 24/7 care provider to my mother. I know many people who are part time caregivers, some are still working a job, and there are many providing 24/7 just like I am.
Our job can be scary, intimidating, or discouraging when we’re the one responsible for someone else’s life.
Many cranky, crazy and funky feelings come to the surface when we’re caring for an aging parent day after day. Even though we love our parent, our emotions start to take over our life. We try hard to keep these feelings to our self so we don’t look like we’re resenting our parents. Then one day it’s built up so much that we explode or become ill our self.
The aged parent is so focused on how they’re suffering and their minds are declining that they have no idea how we’re feeling or what our needs are. To feel underappreciated or to feel invisible starts to creep in, so to speak. Here’s an article from AARP on strategies for handling resentment and getting few thanks for all that we do for our loved one.
The energy we once had becomes less and less as we put our life on hold and put all our attention to our parent or loved one. It’s like our family and friends have no idea exactly what we do. We start to feel lonely, sadness and many other emotions come to the top.
Things that seemed simple have now become difficult when we feel we’re all alone.
Do you find yourself feeling alone and jealous when you see your family and friends vacation posted on facebook or just hear about their shopping trips? Things that most family caregivers can’t do anymore because of our responsibility to our parent. Sometimes we don’t even know what’s happening to us.
I think these feelings are natural and it’s going to happen. We’re only human. At times things aren’t fair. Life isn’t always fair. Some times we feel like we’re being taken advantage of and maybe we are. The only problem with this is, we can’t force people to see us or understand how we feel.
Family members are in their own little world and we don’t belong there. We have to take control of our own feelings because no one else will. It may be hard to pull our self out but if we want to survive we have to. It’ll be hard, but if we have a friend that we can talk to, we can do it.
We know in our heart the reason why we’re caring for our parent. Even if we feel like no one notices the sacrifices we make we still need to continue on because we aren’t doing it for all those other people. We’re doing it for our self and for our aged parent. I started making a gratitude list and it’s helping me to see the blessings in front of me instead of the negatives.
There are times when ‘feeling hopeless’ packs it’s suitcase and comes right along with us on this journey.
When we see difficulty in front of us we want to recognize it as soon as we can.
I’ve quit so many times in my head it isn’t funny. But I’m still here. I don’t give up even when the ride gets bumpy.
When I get that overwhelming hopeless feeling and it starts to grab me I ‘MAKE’ myself get up and walk to another room just to get my mind to focus on something else and usually the feeling goes away.
Family Caregivers go underappreciated.
We, Family Caregivers, give and give until it hurts, but who comforts us in return?
Do you feel all alone?
Family or friends who are not caring for an elderly parent don’t have a clue how hard it is.
There are days when I feel like nothing I do for mom is good enough. I have to hold my head high and know that I’m doing the best I know how.
The pain is real. Mom is very hard to reason with sometime. Her memory is getting strange. Mom has always been a tough person for me to understand.
Here are some words of encouragement for women who are caring for a mother.
Do something for yourself — get a new haircut, have a massage or go for a walk around the block. Anything to break the negative feeling. No one is going to take care of you but YOU.
“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” ~ Amy Tan
Remember that family is the most important thing in the world.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lena Horne
Learn how to be patient with your loved one and with yourself.
Caregivers…THANK YOU for what you’re doing.
Family Caregivers main focus is on giving and not getting.
It’s the nature of our job. Even at that, I think it’s only natural for us to sometimes feel taken for granted by family and the loved ones we’re sacrificing for and the personal care we’re providing for OUR parents.
Family members and friends can come by and mom will notice they look tired or they may be limping, anything and she always makes a caring comment to them. But when it comes to me…I can be in pain or depressed walking thru the house with tears streaming down my face and she never asks what’s wrong. NOTHING. Sometimes I can’t even stand up straight I’m in so much pain.
Just feeling like I’m invisible when mom doesn’t appear to see me, whether it’s true or not I don’t know. I have to admit I still can’t comprehend everything that happens all the time. Sitting in my room when family stops by, I’m in my room with tears rolling down my face….even they don’t ask what’s wrong. They talk to mom, say goodbye and holler out my name and goodbye and out the door they go. I hurt really bad but what do we do?
I don’t say this mean because it’s not only me that it happens to. I heard this from many other children caring for an aged parent when I facilitated the local Alzheimer’s support group for ‘Children Caring For Parents’.
Family members don’t or won’t always express appreciation for what we’re doing for our parents and we have to let it go and move on.
Even though we feel unappreciated the show must go on.
All in all we have to learn how to appreciate our self and know that we’re doing a good thing and why we’re doing it. I’m sorry to say there’s no magic pill. BREATHE and JUST DO IT!
Here is a report that shows a recent study, that providing care to your aging loved one may cause a significant impact on the mental and physical health of caregivers—including their back and spine health.
Down thru the years of caring for mom I learned that improper lifting is not always the main cause of back problems.
Having poor posture is the #1 main enemy.
So there you have it…
I was shocked to find this out too.
There are 3 curves in your spine and having the correct balance is key.
And I also found out that as we always heard down thru the years of ‘putting your chest out and shoulders back’ is NOT good posture.
Remember being told by your parents when we were young to straighten up and put your chest out and your shoulder back?
It puts a sway in your back.
keep your back in its natural curve for balance
the muscles in your back, legs and your stomach help to keep you balanced
no matter whether you are lying down, sitting up or standing
Bend at the hips and knees
Keep a straight back
Maintain the natural curve in your back
Always stand with your feet flat to the ground.
Dropping your shoulders and puff up your breast bone.
Relax the joints and/or muscles that have gotten tensed up.
Always have your tailbone tilting a little under but forward.
Good posture will give you much more energy.
It helps your blood to circulate.
Helps you to breathe much deeper.
Also allows your internal organs to properly function.
I’ve had many women tell me they do yoga to help with their posture. You can learn the proper way of standing and lifting to lesson the risk of back injuries as well as back pain in caregivers.
Remember when lifting something heavy it is best to not use your back but your legs.
If you’re moving something that’s quite heavy do NOT pull it but always push it.
You don’t pull a wheelchair, you push it.
Facts about back problems…
Adult children caring for elderly parents have at least one issue with lower back pain.
Lifting, moving or carrying things the wrong way and we do this a lot caring for our older loved ones.
When we’re overweight and that’s my main issue right there. Lol
People don’t exercise and most family caregivers can’t find a spare minute to do this for themself.
Under stress….well that takes in all of us caregivers right there.
Bending a lot which we do.
Most importantly things to remember for preventing shoulder, neck, and back injuries is a proper lifting technique.
To reduce chances of injury, when transferring patients, caregivers should:
Make sure that your feet are stable, and stand close as possible to loved.
Facing your parent, slightly bend your knees and squat to lift. Hold your stomach and keep your back straight. This will give you strength and encourage additional power from your legs and arms.
Maintain a position as close to the person as possible so that excess strain is not placed on your back when leaning over.
Have your feet point toward the person being lifted. If possible, place one foot in between the person’s feet and one foot to the outside for optimal stability.
When you bend over or lean over this puts a lot of pressure on the lower back.
Only a cold brings people to the doctor more than back problems with major back pain.
Back pain can start early in school kids.
Backpacks is #1 from the weight of their books.
Much of back trouble develops with people of 25-60 but 26% of our kids have endured low back pain.
Taking Care Of Your Back
Health care workers are at the top of the list for back issues because every day as a caregiver we bend, lift, stretch, twist, stoop, push and maybe even pull.
And as caregivers, we have little time to rest and this is a threat to our backs.
There are several websites that will be of help to care for your back.
You can visit these sites and delve into this information for more insight:
Dealing with back issues can radiate, shoot, squeeze, can sting, stab or burn besides that it can pinch, cramp, pound or throb.
WOW back pain can be dull or it can be sharp.
Often back pain can cause your legs to go numb and also have weakness in the legs.
Sometimes back issues can bring on depression or anxiety.
Walking the dog will release the stress.
The back can keep you from a good night sleep.
Your back and your spine
Our back is where the spine is.
A spine is made up of a lot of little bones called vertebrae.
Vertebraes are stacked up on each other and forms a column.
Now between every vertebrae which is the same thing as your backbone are discs that are like little cushions.
Your backbone is all held together with ligaments and your muscles support the vertebrae.
One of the jobs of your spine is to support the body and your head.
The spine helps you to bend, lean over and also twist.
An important part of the backbone is to protects your spinal cord and your nerves.
The lower part of your back does most of the supporting of your body weight.
When there are minor problems with your bones or even your muscles will cause you pain.
Sleeping the wrong way or in an awkward way.
If you would happen to fall this can and probably will damage your back in some way.
Most important is our posture so be aware of your posture.
Arthritis is a BIG culprit for back pain in elderly people.
Preventing Caregiver Injuries: How to Lift Safely
Protecting and ensuring the safety our aging population is of main importance for in-home caregivers.
However, most caregivers have their focus on the elderly loved on and forget to think about protecting themselves from injury.
We can’t provide a safe and secure environment for their care if we don’t protect ourself.
Avoiding injury like our back and shoulders which is the most common of all, can be accomplished when we get the right education and attention to body positioning when lifting, turning and transferring patients from one location to another.
Some family caregivers taking care of parents or grandparents are simply not suited for such physical stress.
With the physical demands of lifting, turning and moving or transferring loved ones, injury to our back can occur.
A lot of in home caregivers are in their 50s, 60s and even 70s like me.
We need to protect ourself as well as protect our loved ones therefore safety is vital.
Learning how to practice good body movements in all aspects of home care is very important in preventing injuries that affects nearly 52 percent of caregivers.
Don’t let back pain keep you from caring for an elderly parent
Becoming nervous over little things, very irritable and sadness.
Tiredness and no motivation.
Not getting a good nights sleep
Getting overwhelmed at minor situations.
Health issues more and more.
Know any caregivers experiencing one or more of these symptons?
In 2015 a survey for Caregiving and AARP showed approximately 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months, while 43.5 million provided unpaid care to an adult or child during the same 12-month period.
What is respite care for caregivers?
Everyone needs a break, especially family caregivers caring for an aged parent.
Respite care provides caregivers a temporary rest from caregiving, while the person with Alzheimer’s or other elderly family members who are just old can still be cared for in a safe environment.
Using respite services can both support and strengthen your ability to be the best caregiver.
Respite care is receiving much needed relief from your caregiving duties when you’re looking after a senior loved one who requires much needed monitored care.
It can be something as simple as arranging for a friend to stay with your family member for a few hours while you run errands. Some churches also have Friendly Visitor programs so give your local church a call.
Respite gives you time off from personal caregiving duties while someone else cares for your older parent.
You can call on family and/or friends to come in.
Local nursing homes are available for respite care or you have the option of hiring a private caregiver.
It’s just as important for your aging parent to have time away from you as it is for you to have time away from your elderly parent.
It’s a win win situation.
Check out this AARP article on respite care for caregivers right here.
2 steps that you can take immediately to recover from caregiver stress and not let it get to the point of a burnout.
Go for it…try this.
What do you have to lose?
This is something you can fix.
1. Modify your mindset
What got you to this burnout point is the mindset that caregiving is something that will consume your life.
That it means cutting out anything that’s not absolutely necessary because you’re already so busy.
Recharge your batteries will help you be a better caregiver.
You’ll have more patience, well maybe lol.
You have to work on shifting the attitude.
Here are some ways to adjust your thinking and manage stress:
Try exercising gratitude. ( I read my meditation book every morning and I’m learning to write down several things that I’m grateful for as I go thru my readings. It does help.
Talk to a counselor or other family caregivers who know what you’re going thru, only those who’s walked in the same shoes as you will understand.
Find a caregiver support group like Alzheimer groups. Some local nursing homes have caregiver support groups that you can attend and also contact your local Hospice, they too have a support group. I’ve attended all 3.
2. Here are 4 ways so you can take regular breaks:
Just take a short walk around the block for 15 minutes.
I MAKE myself go to Walmart for maybe 20 minutes even if I don’t need anything, just to be around people.
Put together a caregiving team. Make a list of other family caregivers that you know and ask each of them if you need someone to talk to if they’d be willing to listen.
I was told to make my mind believe I was an only child, that way if siblings can’t or don’t help you weren’t expecting help anyways. (WARNING: this can be hard to do, but my mentor said this was the only way I could make it thru.)
Know both your needs and your senior parents
What do you need? A few hours away, once or twice a week? A day away from the house? A day or a night off?
What does your loved one need? Companionship?Someone to make sure they have something to eat? Cleaning the house? Personal care? Getting to the bathroom? Daily walks? List every job, large and small.
Most often for a short getaways you just need someone to sit and chat about old times with them while you get some much needed time away. Maybe a neighbor.