Sunday, April 28, 2013

Catching Winks


Recently, a friend who knows that I teach caregivers asked, “Are the parents of kids with challenges also thought of as caregivers?”

Well…yeah.

He had made a common mistake, thinking that caregivers are only those folks who take care of their parents or spouses or older family members with mental or physical challenges. Too often, parents of kids with various mental and physical issues, and health care professionals are not considered in the discussion about caregiving.

But, here’s the most interesting part of the conversation. He said, “I was at ballgame not long ago and a group of autistic kids and their parents walked onto the field and were honored. And ALL the parents looked so TIRED!”

Correct.

One of the real challenges of caregiving is getting enough rest. Legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

Well, fatigue also makes us crazy. And causes us to make mistakes and get injured and snap at people out of frustration and cry more and…being tired just makes things…worse.

As a caregiver you often lay in bed at night worrying about how you will fulfill your caregiver duties, how you’ll pay for all this, how you will get your kids to school when you’ve got to get mom to the doctor…how you’ll have a life.

I wish I had a quick and easy answer.

I mean, I do…but you won’t like it. Grab rest whenever you can. If possible, when the person for whom you are caring is sleeping try to get some sleep, if just a nap, if you can. Try to not fill that time with all the other things you think you should be doing. President John F. Kennedy was said to be famous for taking “combat naps,” 15-minute snoozes to refresh.

Please try to get to bed at a decent hour. And, try to set up as regular a schedule as possible for sleep. I know for some caregivers that’s an almost impossible task, but if you don’t fatigue will jump up and bite you in a variety of ways.

Caregiving can make you crazy. Fatigue makes you crazier.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To-Do Lists Can Make You a Little Less Crazy

Has caregiving gotten into your head and created a level of confusion that has made it difficult--if not impossible--to get things done?

On a variety of occasions it has certainly had that effect on me.

Here's my solution: A simple To-Do List...in fact, not one, but two To-Do List.

The first one, a Master List, is done once a week. I list all the things, personal and professional I have to do.

And yes, that list will get pretty long and daunting. Don't worry about that. You don't have enough hours in the day to do all you believe you need to do. I'll show you how to pare it down to manageable.

The second list is a working To-Do List. This is what folks are talking about when they talk about To-Do Lists.

But, here's a key: You don't want more than about 6-8 things on the working To-Do List. In fact, if you're looking at 10 or more things on a list your brain starts to lock up. You can't process more than about 10 chunks of information at a time.

That's not to say you won't get more than 6-8 things done in your day, it's just that long working To-Do Lists literally make you dumber and slower.

If you let it, doing a list can get you a little depressed because you see all the things you want/need to do. But, the better part is that the habit gives you a sense of control. You don't spend so much time feeling overwhelmed, feeling crazy.