Ironically my life’s mission is to pro-actively support family caregivers as they experience the stresses associated with caring for an elderly loved one. Although the advice I share is based on 20+ years of working with the elderly and their families, I also recognize from my personal experience that if caregivers do not create time to take care of themselves, there will be emotional and physical ramifications.
Locate your Detonator
o Where are you at physically – do you feel tired all the time? Is it hard to get out of bed? Have you gained or lost a significant amount of weight? Are you having a difficult time concentrating?
o Where are you at emotionally – Do little things annoy you? Do you feel like you are constantly on the defense? Have you begun to isolate yourself from friends and family? Have you stopped doing activities that you enjoy?
Take control over your Explosive Velocity – Explain to your friends and family members that you are feeling overwhelmed and ask if they would be willing to be an outlet to share your frustrations. This means that either in person or by phone you can connect with them on an as-needed basis to verbally vomit all of the stress. Take time daily to just scream into a pillow (may sound crazy but very therapeutic)
Ask for help from your First Responders – don’t try to do it all by yourself. Be clear about what you need and give people choices as opposed to requests that offer yes/no answers. (Example: “Would you rather take mom to her doctor appointment or take the kids to swimming?” As opposed to “Can you take mom to her doctor appointment?”)
Avoid Reactive Combinations – If you know that certain people or situations have the ability to cause a reaction take precautions to avoid or minimize your exposure to those elements
Clean it Up – if something trivial sets you off and causes you to explode make sure to re-connect with your “victims” and apologize.
Most importantly Handle Yourself with Care – take time every day to do something to take care of you – go for a walk, see a movie, go for a ride. Clear your head and just BREATHE!