The other day I had a candid conversation with a very good girlfriend whom I am always praising and thanking God for placing her in my life. She is a full time medical professional, a widowed single mother of two young teenagers, and cares for her ailing live-in mother-in-law who is currently suffering from kidney and heart failure as well as dementia. You can imagine the amount dedication that flows through my friend’s spirit on a daily basis. You can also imagine that her time is never her own and the level of physical and emotional stress she constantly endures. A couple of hours of sleep has become a praise-worthy event in her life. In addition to all of this she recently discovered a small lump in her breast upon self examination and is scheduled to see her doctor in mid January for a mammogram.
I wanted to write this post to provide resources and recognition to the devoted caregivers many of us know. I also wanted to provide ways, for those of you who are close to a caregiver, to assist or support those dedicated caregivers . (I figured that most caregivers probably don’t have the time to read this anyway (sigh)).
Did you know that 55% of all family caregivers report that their health has declined since they became a caregiver and that their declining health has affected their ability to provide care. According to the CDC, most caregivers are women around the age of 46, have difficulty finding time for themselves, and balancing work and family responsibilities. They are also known to skip doctor’s appointments for themselves, develop poor eating and exercise habits. Over 50% of these family caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major clinical depression.
Below are just a few ways that caregivers as well as friends and family of caregivers can maximize quality of life as well as available resources :
- It is imperative for all family caregivers to seek support services. You will more than likely require day care or home services while you are working if you are employed. Respite care is also needed for your loved one to stay overnight or for an extended stay while you take a needed vacation or just want to get away. Call the National Respite Network and Resource Center at (800) 473-1727. Keep in mind that respite care is not covered by any health insurance, however the National Family Support Program provides some financing for respite services. Also visit eldercare.gov to obtain a list of valuable resources in your community that provide assistance and services for both the elderly and caregivers.
- Exercise, specifically cardio, is the best stress reliever ever! It releases endorphins, which are the “feel good” hormones and allows you to rejuvenate as well as elevate your mood daily. Talk to your doctor first to understand the level of cardio activity that is safe for you.
- Forgive yourself! You are going to have days when you are exhausted, frustrated, and stretched. This means that you are going to say things that you don’t mean and will later regret. Accept the fact that you are a human being, forgive yourself even if no one else does. Also know that if you can’t get everything done on your long list then that’s ok. Prioritize your task and focus on getting your higher priorities completed.
- Wednesday looks like Sunday to many caregivers because they have no real social break or anything to look forward to. If you are close to a caregiver then offer to take him/her out to dinner & movie, spend the night, or read a book together maybe once a week if it fits into your schedule. Praying together always jump starts their spiritual soul and having healthy conversations are always recommended by the University of California Department of Psychiatry.
Knowing when you need help is one thing. Knowing the kind of help you need is another. When you as a caregiver are requesting the help of others, it is important that you clearly communicate the specific need(s) you have and assistance you require. If you require other resources, like support groups, outside of those listed in this post then please email me at email@example.com or simply post your request in the comment section. Thank you for everything you do from all of us at Wife Kouture.