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Author: Donna Cares

Donna Harris is the author and creator of Donna The Crazy Caregiver.
She shows other family caregivers who also jumped off
the merry-go-round how to join the party.

She wants to help Caregivers step into their God Given Powers
to live a better spiritual, physical and financial life
and build lasting memories with their aging parent.

missing puzzle pieces

The Missing Puzzle Pieces

Find the missing puzzle pieces to the family caregiving journey!

National Family Caregiver MonthNever in a million years did I ever think I’d be caring for my 100-year-old mother.

Just didn’t think about it.

Sitting here thinking about the last 17 years and realizing there are several missing puzzle pieces to caregiving.

Did you know that November is National Family Caregiver month?

I love mom, I love my family, I love that I traveled many places in the world, I love God, I love being a grandma, I love Troy Ohio,

I do have many days, hours, minutes, and seconds that I feel totally alone and that nobody understands what I’m feeling or thinking.

I’ve learned by talking with a dear friend who’s a counselor and was also a caregiver, these feelings are normal and I’m OK.

After 20+ years of caring for several family members and other elderly people I wonder what my life will look like after this chapter is complete.

I don’t like this feeling.

Will I know how to care for Donna when the next chapter begins to unfold?

I’m no one special, I experience depression, loneliness, fear and uncertainty of tomorrow.

Yet, I know who holds my tomorrow in the palm of His hands and somehow, I’ll be OK.

Life is not an event but a process.

The process won’t be easy but I know God has placed me with people who get it.

I belong to a support group which I can’t always make it in person now but I know they’re praying for me and are there when I need to pick up the phone.

There are days when I’m okay with that, and they are days when I’m not.

Caregivers have a bond that no one else can comprehend.

Family Caregivers have an even closer bond.

Caring for an aging parent or loved one 24/7 is one giant puzzle.

But the most important puzzle piece for changing your life will be the relationships you build.

Caring for an aging parent or loved one 24/7 is one giant puzzle, a missing piece leaves a hole.

How do you find the missing puzzle pieces?

The missing piece, stands between you and your caregiving, keeping you from fully feeling confident and balanced in providing the care you’re giving to your elderly parent.

It only takes one piece to be missing and the puzzle will be incomplete..

When caring for your older parents these thoughts run through your brain.

  • “If I can just figure this out it will come together.”
  • You’re almost done, but there’s a MAJOR holdup…
  • Sometimes you’re scared out of your wits.

That’s when you realize it’ll take your energy or provide and give you the energy to keep on moving forward and be determine that life will be brighter on the other side.

We family caregivers are all on this journey together.

We hear that God never gives us more than we can handle, although some days it sure feels like it.

Feeling fear and doing it anyways is a huge part of the caregiving journey.

It’s part of being human. It’s part of caring for an aged loved one.

It’s part of life.

There’s no such thing as perfection – if something is too good to be true, it means it’s probably fake.

What you see others projecting – pretending – is just a show, a mask that they wear.

If they took their mask off, they’d break down and cry, and possibly you may see that your problems are not that bad, after all.

Despite knowing that I’ve been vital to my mom sometimes it feels like I’m invisible.

I’m starting to feel like the life of a caregiver is bigger than I am.

Family caregiving training is limited, a missing piece to the puzzle.

Look for your own training,  I did.

I started feeling overlooked and I decided to take action like my life depended on it.

So I’m here now to draw attention to areas that family caregivers need.

Flip the puzzle pieces face up, isn’t that what most people do when they are working on a puzzle?

If the pieces are upside down how in the world do you think you can find where it goes.

When problems knock you down it’s a good idea to find a way to sort through all the pieces and look at every one of them.

We forget they’re just a piece of the puzzle.

Turn them all up the right way and sort them like you would a puzzle.

The missing puzzle pieces in caregiving.

Only focus on your puzzle.

Five sisters and one got sick, the other four became her caregivers and now they feel like they’ve lost a piece of their puzzle.

Keep your pieces separate from other people’s puzzles.

Finding the missing puzzle pieces will put together a beautiful picture.

 

 

 

Happy

12 Steps To Self Care Activities

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.

Self Care Activities and the Serenity Prayer

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.

Here are the 12 original steps from AA Alcoholics Anonymous:

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.

Be Strong

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.

See you then….

Powerless over others

Powerless Over Other People

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.

Feeling Powerless Over Everything and Hopeless

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.

Taking That First Step

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.

There is hope and life is beautiful in spite of the chaos around us.

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?

Does God Have a Plan

Does God have a plan for The Family Caregiver?

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.

God's plans are bigger than yours.

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.

  • Praying with other family caregivers
  • Listen more carefully
  • 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.

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.

God’s plan is way better than anything I could come up with.

God showed me what to do when someone hurt me.

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.

Does God Have a Plan?

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

 

Family Caregivers lives do matter.

Feel Unappreciated

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.

Family Caregivers feel unappreciated

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.

It's like we pack all our feelings in a suitcase because they go right along with us.

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.

Family Caregiving is a lonely job and one can feel unappreciated.

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 ,you are appreciated. Thank You!

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!

There are no magic pills for all the emotional pain and feeling underappreciated when caring for an elderly loved one.

If you’ve shared my content donnathecrazycaregiver.com blog with anyone…

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I truly appreciate the love, social media shares, comments, etc.

My passion is to help as many family caregivers as I can.

 

Estate Recovery Secret

 

Change

Twelve Steps to Keep Her Aging Mother Safe

One Adult Daughter’s 12 Steps to Keep Her Aging Mother Safe and Happy

I’ve been involved with the twelve step program for over 10 years.

Can’t always attend the 12-step support meetings since mom is 100 years old and can’t be left alone.

There’s a hole in my life.

This support group gives me hope that my life doesn’t have to always be in crisis and it’s up to me to change.

When you attend a step to recovery meeting you walk out feeling strong.

  1. Accept that I have no power over my aging parent I’m caring for and her declining health – my life will become unmanageable at times.

  2. Come to believe that God is much greater than I am and will restore me to good health and sanity to continue caring for my older parent.

  3. Make simple decisions, turn to God and His will so that I can make time and have energy for the important people in my life, the older population.

  4. I’ll search my heart and know that I’m caring for mom for the right reason.

  5. I’ve admitted to God, to myself and to another family caregiver my feelings of how my words and actions affect the care I give my elderly mother.

  6. I’m ready for God to equip me with the strength that only He provides to make my aged parent’s last days, a life of joy.

  7. Humbly go before God and ask Him to remove anger and guilt that comes with caregiving and replace it with love and humor.

  8. Put together a list that I need to remember isn’t actually my parent’s fault but the disease that’s changed their behavior and emotions.

  9. Apologize to my aging mother for anything I’ve done in the past that hurt her.

  10. Every morning take a personal look at my own life and know that I’m not alone, there are other in-home personal care family caregivers that need me and I need them.

  11. Talk to God thru prayer and meditating to know that I’m doing the best I can humanly do at this time.

  12. Knowing the power that I have through God, I can’t keep it to myself but share it with other family caregivers to give them hope.

The twelve steps that take you from a dark place to the light.

God will equip us with the tools and the people we need in our life to finish the course.

We’ve set out with an important job to keep our aging mother or father safe and happy in their twilight years.

The steps that take you from darkness to light.

I’ve decided my life is important also and although I can’t always attend a meeting I can go online and find a 12-step group that fits my needs.

It makes my mind a little healthier.

Now most 12-step programs refer to the ‘God of our understanding’ so anyone can come and not feel threatened or offended.

I myself like to mention God because I believe in God.

In no way am I telling everyone they have to believe in God.

You make that determination for yourself.

The 12 Step Program is a lifelong process.

I didn’t have a hard time admitting my life was unmanageable, many do.

Oh I ‘KNEW’ my life was out of control from the start.

No one had to tell me the 2nd time.

That’s been many years ago and now that I’m a fulltime caregiver for my mother I still have similar feelings.

The 12-step program reminds me I’ll never be completely healed from the stinkin thinkin that plagued my mind.

We all have character defects and I for one sure do.

I’m impatient, feel anger at times, I criticize and I really fight negativity.

There are days when I think I live on an island and mom and I are all alone.

12 steps for caregivers

I’m not strong enough to work thru my issues alone so The Twelve Steps remind me every day what needs to be worked on in my life.

Maybe this group can help you to look at your life a little closer.

Geeze I need God to help me thru this journey of family caregiver.

When I realized my life was out of control I was happy to learn how to live the 12 steps.

The twelve steps are for everyone:

  • the twelve steps for Christians
  • the twelve steps for caregivers
  • the twelve steps for addicts
  • the twelve steps for alcoholics
  • the twelve steps for families of alcoholics
  • the twelve steps for al-anon
  • the twelve steps for depression

My emotions are so powerful.

Years ago, I personally walked in to a room not knowing at all what it was.

Needed help with a person who drank alcohol, which I didn’t grow up around alcohol and then at the same time going crazy dealing with my new life of being mom’s primary caregiver.

It was recommended that I go to this meeting by my counselor at church.

I went.

When I walked in the door it seemed to be all old people Lol.

The group came to be my family away from family. However, that particular group grew smaller and smaller because of the location and it finally closed.

Wasn’t going to give up what I had found so I looked for another group and found one that was even closer to my home.

It was a BIG group and it was a little scary.

Couldn’t walk out once I’m there so I sat there in silence listening to everyone.

That’s been over 11 years now and I can’t live without them.

The steps to recovery teach people to laugh again.

You have permission to laugh again.

 

To have hope.

For the last few years I’ve not been able to leave mom alone and I can tell the difference in my life.

The pain and stress of being a family caregiver is very challenging.

My mind seems so challenged today that I forget to get my list of phone numbers for the group members and call someone.

My health, mental, behavior, thinking and feelings are so effected when I don’t show up to a meeting.

I thought the first day I walked in the room that I would get better.

That my life would change quickly and I wouldn’t have to go but for a short time.

Wrong.

You miss a recovery meeting and I’m telling you there’s a void in your life.

Remember one night on a snowing evening I showed up even though we were having a terrible snow storm.

It was crazy but I was in bad shape.

There were several cars in the parking lot and I saw one person get out and walk to another car and the next thing I knew they left.

Of course, no one knew who I was YET because I sat quietly.

Sitting in my car crying.

Needed someone badly.

Realized right then and there that we don’t just show up for ourselves but we show up for others.

We need each other.

Now that night was a bad night and they decided to cancel because of the weather.

I still struggle because I cannot attend the meetings in person.

Being around people who have similar feelings is the best medicine of all.

The twelve steps are slow and steady like a little turtle.

Our situations may not be the same but our feelings are very much alike.

You read and then follow the steps you’ll see sanity come back in to your life.

It’s not an event but a process and I’m about the slowest one there.

The little turtle.

It takes time.

You don’t get better overnight.

Did you get sick overnight?

No.

It is a process.

The support group has taught me to listen to others.

Those in the room share their experiences of what works and what doesn’t work for them.

I can take what I hear in those rooms that I resonate with and put what I hear into action.

If anyone who needs help between a meeting needs to pick up the phone and call someone on the list until someone is available to talk.

There’s no pressure, no cliques… just love and a listening ear.

The 12-step program is a rock upon which we can stand.

Find a 12-step support group.

The power of community is important.

Join a group of other likeminded people who can understand your current life situation.

Having support helps bolster long-term changes you’re facing and can provide guidance in the times of struggle.

Boiled down to this as “You alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone.”

Family caregivers are sometimes looked at as a superhero for their family.

But everyone including family caregivers needs someone to lean on and to have some outside tools.

And it’s OK.

“My name is Donna G Harris, and I’m a proud family caregiver.”

When Pat Samples, Diane and Marvin Larsen first published Self-Care for Caregivers: A Twelve Step Approach in 1991, caregiving was not registered on my personal radar screen.

I viewed the 12-step programs as the rock.

People who have an addiction to alcohol and their family members all suffer.

From alcoholism to overeating–we’re all working day by day to restore order and sanity to our lives.

At first, I didn’t see how the 12 steps could apply to caregiving, and certainly not to me.

Or so I thought.

That was a BIG mistake.

After reading Step 1 in Pat Samples book, it was clear there was far more to learn from her book than I had considered:

“We admitted we were powerless over the people we are taking care of –that our lives had become unmanageable.”

How long had I been trying to maintain control over what I was dealing with caregiving circumstances that were beyond my control?

“Maybe I was just plain mad that I was stuck with all this, and yet felt guilty about feeling that way.”

If you don’t see yourself somewhere in here, chances are you haven’t hit the challenging spots of caregiving yet.

Being human our behaviors can become repetitive.

We do them over and over and remain angry, stressed and lost for answers.

We are creatures of habit.

In the end, the 12-Steps are more than just a way to curb the situation that’s become chaotic.

Twelve steps give us the importance of accepting our situation for what it is.

No need to wobble alone in our situation.

We are here for you.

Come join my FB group ‘Just Takin Care of My Momma’ and get the support you need.

We have permission to ask for help.

They give us principle and show us how to treat others and our self.

The twelve-step program gives us the tools to start living a full life with meaning amidst all the caregiving issues.

A 12-step program is for anyone and everyone.

Estate Recovery Secret

 

Back pain is common among caregivers.

Are You Taking Care of Your Back

I had to take a required class on ‘taking care of your back’ as one of my in-service mandatory trainings.

Did you know that there are two different types of back pain?

Acute back pain more than likely is caused from an accident or injury.

Usually not long lasting.

Chronic back pain seems to last an eternity and never goes away.

My back will start hurting one day and I have no idea what I did to stir that baby up.

That’s chronic back pain.

Are you living with back pain from putting in a lot of time caring for an elderly parents at home?

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.
caring for your back

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.

  1. cervical curve
  2. thoracic curve
  3. lumbar curve

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.

  1. keep your back in its natural curve for balance
  2. the muscles in your back, legs and your stomach help to keep you balanced
  3. no matter whether you are lying down, sitting up or standing

Proper posture

  • 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.
Yoga and back pain
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.

Proper exercise for back problemsUnder stress….well that takes in all of us caregivers right there.

Our age!

Bending a lot which we do.

etc

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 will bring on the tears

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.

Back pain and heavy back don't mix.

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:

www.allaboutbackpain.com

www.spine-health.com

www.spineuniverse.com

Back pain gets both male and female caregivers.

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.
release stress by walking the dog

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.

Estate Recovery Secret

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

Caregiving is a dangerous job and back injuries have always been serious risk of for caregivers and nurses.

As we grow older there are changes that occur as we age.

The discs in between each vertebra lose some of their water content and the vertebrae get closer together.

Back pain and medication

Treatment for back pain

Medication, they put my mother on prednisone and it really helped for arthritis.

Surgery is an option but really do your homework and due diligence.

Bedrest

When I had back issues my doctor had me walk.  AND I mean walking fast.

It scared me at first but when I got started it was amazing the results I got.

Alternating ice/heat every 20 minutes.

Perfect posture.

A couple tips for a healthy back while driving.

Always adjust your car seat closer to the steering wheel.

When driving long distances always stop every couple of hours so you can walk and take a stretch.

A few tips around the house.

Wear good shoes.  NOT cheap ones.

Have your television at eye level and watch TV directly from the front.

Include stretching exercises and increase your flexibility to prevent injuries.

Doing aerobic exercises, walking and swimming increase circulation.

Walking for a healthy

Always Protect Your BACK When Caring for your Loved One

 

 

concerns and difficulties

Concerns and Difficulties Family Caregivers Face

4 Top concerns and difficulties family caregivers face.

Concerns and difficulties are just part of taking care of an aging parent or other aged loved one and is a act of love.

Caregiving is very time-squeezing and will lead to all kinds of issues and concerns.

Both the caregiver and their families are affected.

Being responsible for an elderly parent can result in:

  1. Adult children who take on care for their elder parent often becomes a lone-wolf.
  2. Your friends slowly disappear.
  3. You, the primary caregiver takes on most of the burden not thinking about your own life.
  4. The one responsible can come away wounded and not much good to yourself or your family afterwards.

 

In reality, it takes a whole army to manage caregiving effectively.

Concerns and Difficulties

Finding ways for emotional exits where you can vent and “be yourself,” and just let it all out without worrying about offending someone.

Caregiving is a gigantic and massive commitment both physically and mentally.

Many grown children often put their loved ones at the forefront, sacrificing their own life, health and family.

Countless children often have full-time jobs, spouse and kids of their own, so adding on the attention that an aged parent needs can really take a big toll on your life.

Caregivers may also experience:

  • Little sleep – insomnia.
  • Back problems can occur with lifting or helping a heavy parent.
  • Little to no privacy
  • Major stress and anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Loneliness
  • Health issues
  • Family adversity
  • Disagreements with siblings
  • Downright exhaustion
  • For those who work an outside job, your performance may be affected
  • Financial hardship
  • Emotional obstacles
  • Mental struggles
  • Very little personal time

 

We come into this custodian journey not giving a thought to how long we will be here.

A long journey of up and down concerns and difficulties.

We can underestimate the time we’ll spend as caregivers.

Never did I imagine I’d still be here taking care of mom 16 + years later.

Just never gave it a thought.

We want our parents to live a long good life but being a caregiver can be enormously taxing to say the least.

Along with all the duties we perform we daily watch our parent’s health decline and that’s hard.

 

Spending time with your declining mom or do you choose to spend time with your own family.

Time, you can’t and won’t get back once it’s gone for either one you decide to choose.

How do you choose?

Tough question.

You give your life to the parent you’re in charge of and take away from your own family.

Family caregiving can be a blessing and/or a curse.

It’s bittersweet.

 

Thinking about yourself

The huge undertaking of care is an important commitment physically and mentally.

We, as caregivers put our loved ones who we’re tending to first and we tend to get lost somewhere in the maze of care.

One day it may be light duty and the next can be very intense duty.

With senior care one never knows or expect how our day will unfold before us.

We as caretakers sometimes forget we need care too.

Every single one of us are human — we all run the risk that at some point in our lives something could and probably will happen to us.

We, the caregiver has an important life also and we need to take care of our own life like we take care of that aging parent, most of us don’t.

 

Have you ever thought of caregivers being similar to firefighters?

Caregivers tend to stomp out one flaming crisis after another.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the firefighter schedule.

We generally are fighting fires every day with no relief in sight for the snags in our lives until the day comes that our loved one passes on.

It’s exhausting fighting flames with an unpredictable power around you.

Caregivers often don’t get the help they need for the challenges they face.

And, that’s because getting outside help is expensive, hard to find and hard to arrange.

It’s often a thankless job and one that leads to guilt, dismay and concern.

Concerns and difficulites always cause fires for caregivers to put out.

Family caregivers put out fires about every day.

Two I remember quite well because they were both recent.

Incontinence and loss of bowel control.

I just stood in tears with both.

We were raised and trained on how to care for little ones but not adults.

We weren’t trained to care for the older loved one’s issues but you did learn how to care for babies and young ones.

 

3 different strains caregiving puts on your life:

Financial strain…

  1. Giving up your job to care for your parent.
  2. How many hours do you put in that you aren’t paid for?
  3. What do you spend trying to find something that will help your parent’s problem?

Personal time strain…

  1. You give up your time to give to your elderly parent.
  2. Giving up time for reading or exercising.
  3. Not going out with a friend for dinner.
  4. Family time is extremely limited.

Physical strain…

  1. How many of you have to lift your elderly mother and hurt your back?
  2. Do you put your health aside because you don’t have time for a physical because mom has so many doctors appts?
  3. Do you get a good night sleep?

 

There is a bright side to our role as caretaker:

We love to put a smile on our mom or dad’s face.  We love to put a smile on our grandparent’s face.

One day we will need help our self and we can only pray there will be someone who loves us enough to see that we live safely and with joy.

There is a satisfying feeling when you know you did your best to give that older parent love in their last days.  It’s a privilege that each of us has.

With that said, it’s still HARD.  It does require you to give up a lot in your life and it can and certainly at times be agonizing and yes, we will still do our part for our parent.

We will continue keeping them safe and giving our aging loved ones love <3 and all the care we can muster up.

 

Estate Recovery Secret

Grandma and Grandpa

How Important is Grandma and Grandpa In The Scheme Of Your Life?

Spending time with grandma and grandpa is important.

If you have a parent who’s caring for your aging grandparent, have you ever wondered what questions to ask when you’re around grandma and grandpa?

Do you ever wonder what to do with your grandparents?

Asking them questions about their growing up years brings about floods of memories back to them.

Sitting here wondering and pondering what to write about so many things pop into my head as the primary care-taker and just thinking back either brings a smile to my face or a tear to my eye.

 

Asking family questions shows grandma and grandpa you’re interested in their life.

Asking grandma and grandpa life questions makes them use their minds.

Several years ago, I use to clean for an elderly lady.

Her grandson would come and sit for a while and just talk to her and ask how she was doing.

They would sit and chat for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Now the grandson didn’t live in the same town and worked even further away.

He made the time to come see how his grandma was doing and always asked her if she needed anything.

I often wondered when I heard them talking if when my time came would my grandchildren stop in to check on me.

There would be something in the basement that she wanted but couldn’t get and he went right down and brought it up for her.

He asked if she needed the trash taken out.

He was very attentive to her and she knew she was loved.

It made such an impact on my life when I witnessed this and saw how important he made her feel.

 

Why you should ask your grandparents questions?

Grandma and grandpa may have trouble hearing and feel left out.

Starting a conversation with your grandparent makes them feel included.

Grandparents have priceless wisdom and life experiences to share.

You can learn how your mom or dad grew up and hear some funny stories about their childhood.

Learn where your parents went to school and their first date stories.

You can learn a lot from grandma and grandpa that your own parents haven’t thought of sharing.

Find out who was president on the day your mom or dad was born.

Find out what kind of things they dad as a kid.

Estate Recovery Secret

The importance of spending time with grandma and grandpa.

If you’ve young children or even teenagers I ask you to please take your children to see and visit their grandparents often.

Do you know families that favor one side from the other and then one set of grandparents are left out?

I never knew either of my grandpas but did have both my grandmothers and loved going to see them.

Closing my eyes I can sit here and remember times when we went to visit my dad’s mother.

We were eating dinner and my brother asked grandma what she would like.

She said just a little of everything. He brought her back a plate of ONE spoonful of whatever was being served.

Everyone laughed when he handed grandma her dinner.

I remember those funny times, do you?

Grandparents have more time to show love, affection and encouragement.

This helps us to learn trust. Grandparents have time to listen where parents are busy tending to many things.

Sit down and share a problem with them and ask for their thoughts or advice.

It’s the everyday moments that you will remember, those special times that can and will tear you up.

Teach the grandkids to spend time with both sets of grandparents.

They can learn so much from both sides.

 

How to spend time with your grandparents.

Take some time to play a game today with grandma and grandpa.

  • Look at pictures and ask questions
  • Play a game of checkers and let them win Lol
  • Get a piece of paper and play tic tac toe

To have living grandparents is a privilege, make sure not to waste the precious time.

Not everyone has both grandparents or even one.

Don’t take it for granted.

They want to see you.

Pick up a hamburger and drink or something you know they like, just show up and see the smile that you put on their face.

Just MAKE time to stop by and see if there’s anything they need.

My mother sits here day in and day out and very seldom sees the grandkids who live right here in town.

She doesn’t say anything but I know she wonders why they don’t have time to stop and say hi.

Maybe grandma was trying to get something from a top shelf or closet they can’t quite reach anymore and they need help.

Teach your children how important it is to take time with grandma and grandpa.

They surely can spare 30 minutes out of a month they could just pop in to say “I love you Grandma”

Show some compassion.

They won’t always be around.

Maybe the sink stopped up and they don’t know what to do.

So many things you could be there for your grandma and grandpa.

They may need their yard mowed.

What can you do today that would help grandma and grandpa?

Show grandma and grandpa that you care and respect them, help them.

There are always things that need to be done and they hate to ask or bother anyone.

They may need a loaf of bread and have no way to get it.

Be thoughtful…you will always cherish those time and have no regrets.

If your kids move out of town or out of state PLEASE encourage them to pick up the phone to say hello, maybe send a card out of the blue.

Your grandma and grandpa won’t be here forever.

Maybe not even tomorrow.

AND if you’re helping with the care of grandparents this may be of help.

Hang on to the life preserver.

How To Get Thru Caregiver Burnout

What You Need To Know About Caregiver Burnout.

Caregiver burnout is a serious issue

I’m throwing out a lifeline to you!!

I know all about caregiver burnout.  Just as soon as I think I’m doing great and mom is doing great then BOOM!

I get this overwhelming feeling come over me not knowing or realizing what happened or when it happened.

It’s a terrible feeling that just floods me.  AND I think I’ve experienced compassion fatigue.

What’s the difference between caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue.

Caregiver burnout is when you become physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.

Family Caregivers who are burned out can and most likely will experience tiredness, pressure, nervousness, and downheartedness also known as depression.

Wikipedia definition: Compassion fatigue, also known as secondary traumatic stress (STS), is a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of compassion over time.

Scholars who study compassion fatigue tell us that the condition is common among people who deal with trauma, or illness, especially in the health care industry

A caregiver can have both burnout and compassion fatigue.

Caregiver stress comes with several symptoms:

  • 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?

Respite Care.

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.

Alzheimer's

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.)

Going crazy and need help?

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.

Click here to go to In Home Personal Care Guide.