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.

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