Things Caregivers Do to Hurt Themselves and Their Loved Ones

May 9, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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Refuse to ask for help–Caregivers tend to get frustrated that other family members and close friends are not chipping in as they should.  Instead of reaching out, they often adopt the attitued, “if I want it done right, I’ll have to do it myself.”  This is not good for anyone, the caregiver, the family or the one who needs the care.

Play martyr–Martyrdom is noble and had, maybe even still has its place in society.  However, your loved one needs you alive not sacrificing your own health and overall well being, in order to give care.

Grieve alone–Caregivers are people who get things done.  Taking time to share their feelings with others is rarely on the top of the “to do” list.  However, it is very important to not only allow yourself to feel your feelings, but also to share them in a safe and non-judgemental environment.

Fail to nurture relationships–Caregiving is consuming at times, and caregivers tend to become so wraped up in the job at hand that they don’t take the time to feed and nurture relationships with other family members and good friends.

Ignore spouse/significant others–I made a distinction because those who are closest to caregivers may suffer the most.   It’s hard to think about working to keep the flames of marriage going when you are concerned about your loved one 24/7.  Yet, nurturing a relationship on one hand may give you a moment of peace on another to help you as you battle Alzheimer’s disease.

Act reactively instead of proactively–It is so important to know what’s coming in terms of the disease.  Not just to know, but to know and understand how those stages will impact your level of care. Please see my series of posts on the Stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The role of the caregiver changes significantly as the illness progresses.

Fail to plan–I’ve said it before, “If yo fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”  Alzheimer’s care facility, standard long term care facility, in home care provided by family and friends, in home care supplemented by an agency, these are all options that should be carefully considered and not at the last minute when waiting lists and ease of admission may come to bear more heavily on the decision than they should.

Take life too seriouslyCaregiving is very serious (and sometimes depressing) business.  But, it takes much more energy to frown than it does to smile.  So, laugh, read something funny or watch something funny.  You are still alive and you can ENJOY life.

What do you think? What did you do wrong? What’s your blunder?  Maybe you got something right. Tell us about it, leave a comment

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4 Responses to “Things Caregivers Do to Hurt Themselves and Their Loved Ones”
  1. Loretta Spivey says:

    Linda, caregiver stress syndrome is serious business. Studies have shown that it manifests as long as three years after the caregiving is over. I encourage you to get some rest and take care of yourself. Exercise has been an important part of my personal prescription. A balanced diet is important too. Thanks so much for your comments. You are on the right track, you’ll be of best benefit to your parents if you are mentally and physically fit. Do you have siblings to help?

  2. Linda Lyman says:

    Great list for all caregivers. I was the primary caregiver for my aunt battling breast cancer for the second time. Over the course of 8 months, I probably was guilty of most of these things and paid for it after she died. I became a victim of caregiver stress syndrome and still have not dealt with the grief. I have learned a lot about myself and as I prepare for caring for my aging parents, I will make sure that I monitor my behaviors so I stay mentally and physically on top of things so I am there for my parents but looking out for myself too.

  3. Carol, you are so right. Caregiving is an amazing teacher. I too am grateful for the experience. Can’t say I was always grateful when I was in the midst of it, because it was hard sometimes. I actually forgot how to really laugh for a little while, but when I look back on those days I realize I am a better person for it. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Carol O'Dell says:

    Thanks for this blog.

    Boy, could I go down this checklist and check them off!

    At one point or another, I was guilty of all these things–except I at least had a wicked sense of humor, which even my mother enjoyed.

    Caregiving is hard, but I believe it’s good for us.

    I cared for my mom who had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and lived with us (hubby, kids), and over time, I did learn to ask for help, to stop being so darn serious, and to take care of my relationships that sustained me.

    I’m grateful for my caregiving experience. It taught me so much about myself, my mother, our relationship, how I deal with things–for me, even though it took me to the bitter edge, I learned so much and I’m grateful for this experience.

    ~Carol D. O’Dell
    Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir
    available on Amazon

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