Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Harried Holiday


Like many of you who are caregivers my brother and I are deciding what we’ll do for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Depending on the extent of your caregiving responsibilities you may be adjusting your schedule to for visits to care facilities, in-home visits, giving medications, what foods can be served, what activities you can be involved in, when you get to sleep, what confrontations (family and others) to anticipate, possible emergency room trips, clothes to pack (yours and others), hygiene rules and a list of other issues and contingencies.

Remember when all you had to worry about was having enough food and who’d get hurt playing touch football in the back yard?

If you let all the things that worry you…worry you…every special time becomes a drudge.

Try thinking about it this way: What do you have to be thankful for? This might be the last holiday season you have with the person for whom you care. And don’t feel guilty about hoping that’s true. Just recognize the fact.

If you have a restful moment, be thankful for it. If you are healthy, be thankful for that. If you can put gas in your vehicle, lay your head on a soft pillow, get a hug FROM ANYONE, enjoy a bite of turkey, feel the sun’s warmth, take a walk or raise a glass in toast of life, be thankful for it.

As caregivers, what we do is stressful but necessary. Most of the time, if we had a choice, we’d choose not to have to do it. But, we’re here. The experience is what it is and the best thing we can do is be thankful that we matter.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stronger Than You Know


Sunday’s edition of my local paper had an article about parents of Autistic children who are waiting for Medicaid benefits.

The article chronicled all the issues delaying the benefits but the most important part was a series of comments from the parents. “I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this.” “I’m at the end of my rope.” “I can’t take this much longer.”

Sound familiar?

When I talked about the article with a friend she said, “Those are special people, I don’t know if I could do something like that.”

To which I replied, “No, they aren’t special people. They are normal people in a special circumstance. And yes, you could do that. You wouldn’t have any choice. And you've done it before.”

I know my friend has that sort of strength because she has dealt with her own health issues and those of her late husband and late father-in-law.

 We are all much stronger than we think or give credit to ourselves.

When placed in extraordinary circumstances humans are wonderfully strong and resourceful creatures.

The stress comes from the fact that we often don’t want to be in the situations in which we find ourselves. I’m with ya! Go back and read the “I Hate Caregiving” blog from a couple of weeks ago.

But, again, we can hang tough or, as my friends in Texas say, “Cowboy Up,” when we need to.

The difficult issue about caregiving is that we seldom know when it will end. So we have to take care of ourselves as we move through the experience. It’s such a cliché now, but remember the airline attendant’s advice to put the mask on yourself first and then help others.

You can do this. Cowboy and Cowgirl Up!

***(Go to Youtube.com and check out the "Lindsey Haun Stronger Than You Know" video...don't let the opera fool you, it only lasts 1 minute...listen to the words)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Caregiving


Hurricane Sandy presents a serious threat to the most populous corridor in America.

Combine a fast-moving hurricane with 150-mile an hour, cold, jet-stream winds and a full moon (increases the gravitational pull on waves) and you get a storm seen once in a generation.

If you live in the path of Hurricane Sandy take the necessary precautions to stay safe.

Now that you’ve been warned…try this: Look at cargiving through the same type of lens as you would a hurricane.

If you’re a reasonably intelligent person and you live in the path of a hurricane you take precautions and, if you can, travel away from the threatened area. The dopes, or the people with few resources, hunker down and try to ride it out

How often do we take the same approach to caregiving? We recognize the threats caregving poses to health, work, relationships, thought processes and sources of joy and we….(too often) hunker down and try to ride out it out instead of taking precautions and/or moving away from the bad stuff.

Like many people who live in the path of a hurricane most caregivers can’t dodge the responsibilities and just move away. What we can do is anticipate the challenges posed by caregiving to our mental and physical health and happiness and work to minimize the damage.

We all have hurricanes in our lives and, as a caregiver, I can tell you that a lot of what we encounter should be called Hurricane Caregiving. How do we face it?

***Be sure and forward this blog to a caregiver who might need it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Let'em Nap


The last two times I stopped by to see my mother at the care center she was napping.

She has gotten into a routine of getting up, eating breakfast and then going back to bed for a short nap.

The first time I sat watching her sleep and agonized over whether or not to wake her. My visits seem to mean so much to her—and me—that I didn’t want to lose even a little time that we might spend together.

Finally, I decided that while sleeping she was at peace, a state she too seldom finds while awake. So I kissed her lightly on the cheek and left a note for the aides to read to her when she awoke.

The next time I visited and she was napping it was a no-brainer. Let her sleep.

If you’re a caregiver and the responsibility makes you crazy it would be easy to slip into a habit of visiting when you know the person is napping, or in physical therapy, or eating or some other activity that allows you to tag the base, say “I was there” and move on with your day…with your life.

I’m not making judgments here, but I would suggest that if you get into that sort of habit your slackness will catch up with you in terms of your sense of responsibility and character. You’ll self-image will take a hit on the basis of skipping out.

Don’t worry when something like this happens every now and then. Don’t worry about using the situation to help you meet other responsibilities, give you some self-time or simply letting your step away to catch a break.

Just don’t use it as an excuse to duck your responsibilities. If you do you’ll end up feeling like a loser in the end…and at that point your caregiver responsibility may be over, you can’t make up for your behavior, and you’ll beat yourself up for it for years.

I’m going to see Mama today after lunch. I know she’ll be awake and, in fact, early afternoon is when some of her most challenging behaviors begin. During those times I’ve been able to calm her, help her aides and feel like I’ve really contributed to her care. A win-win-win.

Since I’ve caught a break the last couple of times I’m probably a little more up than usually and better able to weather my visit.

***If you know a caregiver, help them by forwarding this blog to them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Future of Pottery


A headline in my local paper alerts me to a lecture this week titled, “The Future of Pottery.”

It might as well have said, “The Future of the Red Solo Cup.”

It isn’t that I don’t like pottery, I think a lot of it is beautiful….well, and a lot of it looks like a 5th grader did it in art class.

Yesterday, I went to a gathering of chess enthusiasts at a local Barnes and Noble bookstore. I like chess and, having played a lot in college, I’d like to get back into it. I’m betting some of the pottery people would have been bored to tears.

The point is that someone likes pottery and they’d be absolutely giddy about the upcoming lecture and other folks like chess and they’ll spend hours sitting quietly trying to figure out a move.

What interests you?

Very often, when you’re engulfed in caregiver craziness, you can forget those things that made your heart sing, that made you…you.

It’s so easy to lose yourself in the caregiver experience. And that can make you crazy.

I’m not saying you need hours of free time to get that, “Yeah, this is me and I’m alive! kind of feeling.”

That type of feeling fights off the crazies.

I can sit in my mother’s room and, as she sleeps, I can play chess on my iPhone. I can do it in an emergency room, waiting for Doogie Howser to come tell me what I know, that Mama has bumped her head and we should give her aspirin and put a cool compress on the bump.

What simple activities make you…you?

*** If you know a caregiver who could use a lift be sure and forward "Caregiving Can Make You Crazy" to them.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Constant, Gentle Pressure

One of the things that can make you crazy during caregiving is your contact with professional, semi-professional or other family "caregivers."

God Bless the good ones, but the lazy, uprofessional, minimal commitment...even dangerous...ones are enough to try the patience of Job.

Here's a way to keep'em from making you nuts: Constant, gentle pressure.

In legendary restauranteur Danny Meyer's bestselling book about customer service, Setting The Table, he talks about the constant, gentle pressure management style.

The concept can be used when managing some of the people who are supposed to help you in caregiving.

"Constant" means you keep after them to meet their commitments in terms of the care they are supposed to provide for your loved one. Remember, they have made commitments to a certain level of care. That doesn't mean they are supposed to care for the care recipient the same way you would care for that person. That sort of request is unrealistic.

"Gentle" means you don't lose your temper with them. You firmly help them understand, again, their commitments.

"Pressure" means you keep the pressure on in a constant, gentle way to...help them understand...their commitments and your expectations that the commitments will be met.

Constant, gentle pressure helps you stay in control of the caregiving and of yourself.

Monday, October 1, 2012


The Pearl Necklace  

 The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.
On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.

"What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver,she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.

He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

What are you hanging on to?
         
 Author Unknown
(from The School of Practical Philosophy)
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Hate Caregiving


I’m going to go ahead and fire this up: I don’t like caregiving. I hate the demands it makes on my life, the worries that keep me awake at night, the anxiety created by wondering if my mother is being cared for and is safe and the toll it takes on what was already a pretty busy and stressful life. 

What I really hate is seeing my mother like this.

And anyone who would ask, “But, don’t you love you mother? Don’t you want to show that you love her by providing some of her care?” is an idiot.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that any person who would say, “Yeah, I’m glad my loved one has Alzheimer’s/Cancer/Parkinson’s (you name it) and I love the fact that my life has been turned upside down and I’m tired all the time and having to use up my work time off on emergency room visits and sitting with them,” would have to be seriously demented.

If you’re with me say, “Amen,” and don’t feel guilty about it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wishing you didn’t have to go through the caregiving experience. 

Nothing.

So, step away from the guilt train.

People tell me, “You just have to step up and do it.” And yes, they are right. I agree and I’m doing that. But, I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to wish my life was like this.

There’s a wonderful story that comes out of caregiving lore. A woman was caring for her husband who had Parkinson’s. She had finally gotten him to bed after an incredibly trying day. She’s standing in the kitchen washing dishes…and she snapped. She took the coffee cup she was washing and threw it on the floor, shattering it into pieces. The feeling of relief she experienced from the act surprised and pleased her so she threw another cup on the floor…and then a dish…and then a bowl.

After a quick clean-up she realized she had found a unique stress relieving strategy.
The next day she went into their garage and hung a blanket against a wall and stacked three cinder blocks in front of it. She started bringing out boxes of old dishes and whenever she felt stressed she’d go out to the garage and zing china at the cinder blocks.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to be overwhelmed/crushed/obliterated by the caregiving experience. There is no guilt in the thought and feeling.

As long as you are doing what you need to do to keep you loved one safe and cared for you’re stepping up.

It’s just that in order to keep from going crazy you sometimes need to step away, mentally, emotionally and literally.

***If you believe another caregiver needs to see this please forward it to them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Where Are Your Car Keys?


There’s a question that sums up a lot of the practical issues of being a caregiver.

Where are your car keys?

Most of us live a vehicle-centered lifestyle so if we don’t know where our keys might be we’re lost.

Your keys should be in one of two or three places: In the ignition of your vehicle, in your pocket or purse, or (if you are a male) the single place you put them when you take them out of your pocket.

But, we’ll drop’em on the table, on the bed, on a shelf, in the bathroom, on the bar, in the office and just about anywhere else there is a relatively flat surface.

The average American loses 15 hours every year looking for car keys. I’m willing to bet for caregivers it’s 40-60 hours.

Caregiving often stresses us to the point that we’d forget our heads if they weren’t attached to our bodies.

So, the location of our car keys is a wonderful microcosm of the challenges we face. And getting stressed looking for our keys makes us crazy.

So, have one place (a bowl, a hook, a box, next to your bed) to put your keys if you don’t leave them in a purse.

Finally, the have-a-place-for-things works great for a whole range of items you might use on a regular basis. The average American loses two weeks in time every year looking for stuff so anything you can do to ease that burden while caregiving is a good thing.

***Be sure and forward the Caregiving Craziness blog to a caregiver you think can use the help.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Strength In Numbers


I remember laughing when I heard this: When someone asks, “How are you?” unless they’re wearing a white coat and a stethoscope, they don’t really care.

There’s a lot of truth to the line. And, as I’ve mentioned here before, in answering the question you don’t want to dump all your troubles on folks all the time. The dumping turns them off and pushes them away from you.

However, there are some folks who might not mind you sharing your caregiving issues as long as you’re willing to hear theirs.

The number of caregiver groups has exploded in the last decade because so many more folks are caregivers. You can find caregiver groups in your religious community, by contacting local health care organizations such as hospitals, care centers, associations (ex. Alzheimers.com), and by asking other caregivers with whom you have come in contact.

However, there are two sides to being part of a caregiver group:
 The positive side is that you realize you’re not in this by yourself and other caregivers may offer practical suggestions to help you move through your experience more effectively and less stressfully.

The negative side is that opening up about the experience does not come easily to everyone and it comes waaaaay too easily for others. So, if you want others to listen and share you usually need to do the same. And, there will almost ALWAYS be a person in the group who shares too much. The down-side comes with the up-side.

Finding the right group can save you if you feel like you’re drowning in the caregiving experience.

Look around and ask around.

Try this: Find half-a-dozen caregivers who have been involved in groups of some kind and ask them about their experiences. Don’t take one person’s recommendation no matter how strong—positive or negative—they are.

There truly can be strength in numbers. You simply need to find the right numbers. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Basics...Guest Author


As a caregiver, it’s natural to make your loved one a priority. However, it’s necessary to make yourself a priority as well.

When caregivers take on the responsibility of looking after a loved one, they can get so caught up in their new role that they forget to take care of their own needs. It’s certainly tough to juggle two different sets of responsibilities. However, without a healthy balance, caregivers become at risk for low to high levels of anxiety, fatigue, irritability and even depression.

It’s extremely important for caregivers not to forego their own needs while taking care of their loved one. Their physical and emotional wellbeing is just as important as the patient’s. Paying equal attention to both sets of needs can help caregivers stay mentally balanced and strong throughout the caregiving experience.

Meeting Physical Needs

As a caregiver, you may need to help your loved one with a number of physical needs, such as showering, toileting, getting dressed, brushing their teeth and light physical activity. Just as it is essential to help them maintain their physical health, it’s important not to let yours slip by the wayside as well.

Some caregivers find it helpful to set aside a block of time each day to handle their basic physical needs, especially physical activity like walking, jogging, yoga, swimming or biking. Other caregivers prefer to tackle one activity at a time in between caregiving duties. Whichever route you choose, don’t ignore your own physical needs.

Sleep is another crucial physical need – but one of the easiest for caregivers to pass over. You may feel tempted to shave a few hours off each night’s sleep to accommodate your busier-than-ever schedule, but your overall productivity can suffer if you don’t get enough rest each day. Stress-induced insomnia can also complicate your sleeping patterns, but various relaxation therapies or breathing techniques can help you get your sleep schedule back on track.

Meeting Emotional Needs

Caregivers shouldn’t subject themselves to unreasonable expectations. This can readily lead to disappointment and frustration.

You are there to care for your loved one and make them feel as comfortable and happy as possible.  You are not responsible for curing their illness or extending their life span. As you care for them, take a realistic view of what you can and cannot do for them. Don’t beat yourself up for things you cannot control.

Allow yourself to fully feel the emotions that you are feeling, and then look for a way to address them.
·        If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to take a step back and release your frustration. If necessary, separate yourself from the situation until you’ve returned to a calmer state of mind.

·        Talk to a friend or a fellow caregiver. Simply discussing the challenges can relieve stress.

·        If you’re having trouble identifying or fully coping with these emotions, consider reaching out to a mental health professional  or a support group.

Don’t forget to make time for your favorite stress-relieving activities. Whether it is exercise, meditation, cooking or even just dinner with friends, be sure to give yourself time to engage in these activities to reduce your anxiety in a healthy manner.  When you feel balanced and calm, you’re able to provide the highest level of care to your loved one, which makes the experience more rewarding for everyone involved.

Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for The Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer. asbestos.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Work, Caregiving, Work, Caregiving

Have you had the caregiver discussion with the folks at your job?

I'm not talking about the discussion in which you burden and bore everyone with the details about how difficult your caregiving experience is. I'm talking about how your caregiving experience might effect them.

Have you told them that there will be days you'll be getting to work late, leaving early, called away on a moment's notice, taking phone calls from care providers/emergency workers/the care recipient?

Over half of caregivers are still working so the caregiving discussion is being held in millions of workplaces. You are not alone in this.

Some employers are wonderfully understanding, others understand and seem to grudgingly cooperate, and some have a "we have work to do, that's your personal life" attitude.

Sometimes employers are wonderfully understanding at the beginning of your journey but don't realize that it's usually a marathon and not a sprint so they grow increasingly impatient with your caregiving demands.

Let's be honest: Your caregiving experience is YOUR caregiving experience.

Most folks will be supportive to a point but when your experience starts negatively impacting their lives you'll need to find creative ways to fulfill your job responsibilities, do good things for the people who help you and are patient with your challenges, and deal with the people who aren't supportive.

If you've had he discussion and have found ways to stay sane when blending caregiving and your work life leave a comment and let us know how you handled it.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Marathon or Cross Country?

The caregiving experience is often compared to a marathon instead of a sprint.

I'm not sure that's an appropriate comparison.

In most marathons the surface on which runners compete is pretty consistent throughout the race. Mostly roads or track with hills thrown in every now and then, marathon courses offer a sameness that helps runners.

Cross country courses might include mud, hills, logs to jump over, rocky stretches, gorges to traverse, mountains to climb, deserts to cross...all kinds of obstacles.

I understand the point of the comparison of marathons and sprints in terms of time...you have to be in it for the long haul. 

I think caregiving is more like a marathon cross country race.

And, if you don't want the race to make you crazy and force you to give up (which you really can't when you think about it) you have to be ready for the obstacles and understand how to quickly recover from them.

Recently, my mother has been falling. There have been lots of dings, bruises, stitches, scrapes and cuts. She appears to be healing, but we thought, "This is it. It'll be a fall that finally does it." But, she fell less last week, so maybe she's getting better. Or, maybe not.

All we can do is help her heal, keep moving and and try to anticipate the next obstacle.

Keep running. Keep breathing. We can do this and not go crazy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

No Scooters in the Hospital?! What Up Wid Dat?


My mother is jumping into dementia with both feet.

The other night, while she sat with my brother in an emergency room, she saw a man pulling a small oxygen tank on wheels. She turned to my brother and said, “I’m surprised they’d let someone with a scooter in here!”

Later, she asked, “Joe, do you think they’ll have your car ready soon?”

Finally, while watching the nurses and medtechs work at the nurse’s station she said, “I didn’t know they’d moved the stock department down here.”

If you can't laugh at this stuff, it'll kill you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Telling the Tale

Here's the best way to push away the people who can do the most to help keep you from going crazy in your caregiving experience. Whenever they ask, "How are you?" Launch into an excruciatingly long story about your care experience including the names of care recipient's meds, doctors, therapy strategies, aides and bowel movements.

Believe me, I have been, and am now on, both sides of the conversation.

Here's the truth: They are asking a wonderful question but they really don't want to know everything that is going on. And if you drain their emotional energy with one of those "might as well recite every book of the Bible" answers they'll stop asking.

When people ask, "How are you?" simply say, "I'm Ok." Or, "I'm taking it day-by-day."

My favorite is, "Hey, I'm trying to be a grown-up."

If they ask more specific questions and you want to answer them, do it.

If you have a close friend who will let you rant, cry, explain and blow up you have a treasure, but don't wear them out. Tell them, "I need to get this out, but I want you to stop me in a few minutes."

Getting it all out is helpful, but doing it constantly makes you more crazy and wears you and them out.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Not Knowing Can Make You Crazy

Lack of knowledge across a wide range of caregiving issues can make you crazy.

And remember, the definition of crazy, at least here, is doing things or thinking thoughts that are out of the norm for you and that can be detrimental to you life.

Learning about Medicare or Medicaid, how to deal with the dementia-inspired flights of fancy your care recipient takes or how to turn someone in a hospital bed can help you feel more in control.

However those topics are not the focus of this blog. This is about how you can take care of yourself.

So, here's what you need to do: Simply go online and enter the condition your care recipient experiences (ex. Alzheimer's) a + sign and the word associations.  Ex. Alzheimer's+Associations

You'll see lots of resources providing the condition-specific knowledge you need.

Also, go to fcacares.org and caregiver.com for two of the best caregiver-focused websites.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's OK to Feel the Happy/Sad

It's easy to let our emotions about caregiving and how we think about them make us crazy.

In a matter of seconds (or, more likely, one visit or contact) you can feel joy, anger, guilt, appreciation, sadness, happiness, frustration and fulfillment.

When I visit my mother at the Alzheimer's unit I always feel joyful when I see her. When I leave I almost always feel, "Thank you! Thank you! I'm out!!"

And, I've stopped feeling guilty about my....feelings.

It's ok.

You're human.

Caregivers who don't understand that it's ok to experience the range of emotions are the ones who have their lives stolen by the experience of caregiving.

Save yourself. Let it be ok to feel the range of emotions and then come back to the positive in your life.

The effort will help keep you from going crazy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Caring for Those Who Help You Care

Keeping yourself sane while caregiving can be helped or hurt by how you connect with the people who might be helping you in the caregiving journey.

If the person for whom you are caring is in some sort of facility--hospital, assisted living, Alzheimer's unit--you should do small things to show the staff you appreciate what they do. Nursing aides are some of the least appreciated employees in health care and have some of the highest injury rates.

A kind word, a small gift or even small bits of cash every now and then help show them you understand and appreciate their help.

Granted, some facilities discourage gifts and some aides may pump you for extras once they know you'll offer, but making friends with the people who provide day-to-day care when you aren't around is a way to make sure your loved one gets attention when you...aren't...around.

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's Their Reality, Not Yours

Caregiving for someone with dementia can be as much of a challenge mentally as it can be physically. They'll be communicating with you in a totally normal way and then something comes up and they're out there..."Yep, I remember when you were running through the dunes at the beach during vacation a few years ago and...wow!...look, it's George Washington riding a Harley Davidson!" It's a challenge to say the least. Mental health professionals tell me it's a two-step process. You use a simple agreement and then redirect. For instance, after the George Washington comment you simply say, "Oh yeah, and that summer we went to the beach I loved going to the seafood restaurants every night." It doesn't work every time, but more often than not it takes the person to a more focused thought. A friend once told me, "You don't use logic to reason your way out of a situation you didn't reason your way into." I'm thinking that it's hard to use logic with someone who isn't using logic themselves. Trying to use logic with someone suffering from dementia will make you crazy because their answers often don't meet your criteria for logic. Relax, and take a mental step back; it can save your sanity.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Is CRAZY?

The other day I was talking to a caregiver and mentioned that caregiving can make you crazy.

Immediately, they nodded their head and agreed. Almost everyone does that. We know caregiving can make us crazy, but what do we mean by crazy?

In my book crazy refers to actions and ways of thinking that are out of the norm for us. Forgetting to pick up your child at school, forgetting meals, running stoplights and stop signs, snapping at someone we love in a conversation, not being able to go to sleep at night, fumbling simple tasks...all those things are signs (and real-life examples caregivers have told me) of the craziness caregiving pushes us into.

There's no reason to feel guilty about the stress caregiving causes, you're doing your best.

But, when caregiving starts making you crazy, or leads you to do crazy things, you've got to step back and look for ways to take care of yourself.

Remember, if you won't care care of you you can't take care of them.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Water and Craziness

When was the last time you took a drink of water?

Not drinking water can make you crazy!

Dehydration is a major cause of problems with care recipients but too often caregivers don't understand how the condition effects them.

If your hydration level drops by 2-3% it inhibits your ability to do simple math and slows your reaction time when you approach stoplights and stopsigns...in effect, dehydration makes it harder to make decisions.

Also, when your skin dries microscopic cracks are created. The cracks become places where germs and bacteria enter making caregiver more susceptible to illness.

I ALWAYS keep a bottle of water handy and I rarely pass by a water fountain that I don't stop and take three swallows of water.

And yes, I've heard all the stories about water quality, but that's why your parents got you all those shots when you were little.

Drink more water (not coffee, tea or soft drinks), it'll keep you from getting too crazy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Le'ts be honest, while caregiving is a wonderfully supportive, loving and caring activity it can make you crazy as a bat if you let it.

The point of this blog is to help you deal with the craziness of caregiving and keep you from losing yourself in the activity.