How to Take Care of the Caregiver

November is National Family Caregivers Month. This month's Caregivers Blog has been reprinted from the 2011 Fall/Winter Parkinson Report, which, in honor of this special month, focuses on the caregiver.

Here’s an eye-opening statistic from the National Family Caregivers association: more than 29 percent of americans provide care for a chronically ill or disabled family member. Furthermore, about 23 percent of caregivers are age 65 or older. Certainly, if your spouse or loved one has a chronic illness like Parkinson’s, the time to begin preparing for this role is before disability or frailty becomes an issue. Jane Davis, who has been a caregiver for her husband for several years (see story on page 8), recognizes that caregiving is a tough job. That’s why she encourages all who care for others to stay committed to their own health and well-being from the very start.

  • Surround yourself with support. For Davis, joining the WellSpouse™ association (www.wellspouse.org), a community of spousal caregivers, provided much needed support. “They tell me what I need to do now as well as how I should prepare for the future,” Davis said. “I could call them in the middle of the night, and they would listen, and that means the world to me.” Reach out to other people who are experiencing what you’re going through.
  • Don’t give in to self-pity. It’s normal to be upset and even feel burdened when you first become a caregiver. That’s why you should give yourself time to adjust. “But don’t crawl in a hole and stay there,” Davis said. “You need to find ways to make life better, not only for your spouse but for yourself as well.” Start doing something you enjoy every day. If possible, join a yoga, tai chi or art class with your loved one. Find ways to stay connected and ease stress.
  • Find a mentor. Realize that your role as caregiver will change over time and that it’s a continuous learning process. Having the guidance of someone who has already been through what you’re going through will have a positive impact on your life. By helping you face challenging situations and showing you how to rise above them, a mentor can help you stay strong. look for role models among people you know.
  • Express yourself. “as a caregiver, bottling up your emotions can backfire,” Davis said. “Just cry, release it and move on. Then it doesn’t paralyze you and keep you stuck. But the key is to move on from it, because you can’t let those emotions encompass everything.” There’s no one best way to process your emotions, but try to figure out what will work best for you. That may be getting thoughts and feelings down on paper or talking them out with a therapist.
  • Hire help. “You need to be there for your loved one, but you also need to maintain your own identity,” Davis said. “You have to make a conscious decision to live life.” Find someone to relieve you of your caretaking duties for a couple of hours a day or week. Then go do something that’s uplifting.

Posted: 11/14/2011 6:11:13 AM by Cathy Whitlock


Browse current and archived blog articles written by caregivers, for caregivers.

September 2014
I Don't Like Parkinson's, but I Love the People in My Life

August 2014
Baby, oh Baby?

July 2014
When the Caregiver Takes a Break

May 2014
Arriving at Thriving

March 2014
Adult Swim

February 2014
5 Disability Insurance Issues Worth Talking About

December 2013
DBS: How it changed darkness into light

November 2013
Family Caregivers Deserve Special Recognition

September 2013
Saving $49,500 for a Good Night’s Sleep

August 2013
Growing Up with Parkinson’s

July 2013
Moments

June 2013
I Wish I May, I Wish I Might

April 2013
5 Grab-and-Go Healthy Snacks for Parkinson's Caregivers

March 2013
5 Caregiving Tips for Lewy Body Dementia

January 2013
Lewy What?

November 2012
How to Support a Caregiving Spouse: Three Tips from My Other Caregiving Half

October 2012
Bobcats and Turtles

August 2012
Build a Ramp

July 2012
A Bathroom That Works

June 2012
Lessons in Care, Lessons in Time

May 2012
Welcome to CareZone

April 2012
Dignity and Empathy in Caregiving

March 2012
Notes from "Movers & Shakers with Parkinson": How You See Your Changing Roles

February 2012
PD Inpatient "Care": Inept, Indifferent, Incompetent, Insufficient, Injurious

January 2012
Caregiver Isolation as Cultural Disease

November 2011
How to Take Care of the Caregiver

September 2011
The Disregarded Costs of Agency Care

August 2011
7 Tips for Hiring Good Caregivers

July 2011
Parkinson's and Your Voice: The Essence of You

June 2011
7 Ways a Care Recipient Can Help Alleviate Caregiver Burnout

May 2011
Lessons Learned About Caregiving for a Person with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease

April 2011
Communicating With Your Partner When Speech and Voice Are Declining

March 2011
Long Distance Caregiving

February 2011
Financial Planning Webinar for Caregivers

January 2011
Caregiving Tool: A Home Healthcare Management System

December 2010
Caregiver Sanity: Three Things I Try to Remember

November 2010
Appreciating Family Caregivers

May 2010
Good Body Mechanics for Caregivers by Kevin Lockette, PT

March 2010
Taking the First Step in Your Own Care by Carol Levine

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