Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hospital Gowns Are Embarrassing!!

I'm at an age at which every 5-10 years I have to have a rather unpleasant medical procedure done. If you're reading this blog it's likely you're in my age group.

Had it done yesterday and it couldn't have gone better; nice people, quick procedure, kind of a la-la feeling the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, one of the issues for caregivers is that we often don't take care of ourselves. We are so focused on the caree that we may not take our meds, get enough rest, drink enough water, eat right, get some exercise and take the necessary precautions--like the procedure I mentioned--that allow us to stay healthy.

You've read it hear before, you'll read it again...if you don't take care of yourself you won't be able to take care of others.

What simple, health-related efforts are you ignoring? If you keep ignoring them what's the possible negative outcome?

Take care of yourself. You deserve it.

Friday, March 20, 2015

What About Caregiving Makes You Crazy?!!

What is it about caregiving that makes you crazy?

Go to the Caregiving Can Make Life Crazy! Facebook page and leave a comment, or go to the blog, crazycaregiver.com and leave a comment.

We'll see if we can't find some answers for you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Time to Give Up the Fight

If you've never heard "Come In From the Cold" performed by George Benson or Marc Broussard click over to youtube.com  after you read this and listen. It's a wonderful love song, and there's a line in it that deserves focus.

"Let's give up the fight."

The line is talking about resisting a relationship, an internal struggle.

Caregiving is full of internal struggles. In fact, most of the craziness in caregiving is caused by the internal struggles.

Most of us experience internal struggles on a constant basis. Some are small, "Should I have that second helping of mashed potatoes," while others are large, "Should I commit to a life-long relationship with someone who's an NC State fan?" (ooops, maybe that's just me...but, you get my meaning)

I believe the greatest internal struggle, the most difficult fight for many caregivers is standing face-to-face with the question, "Me or them?"

The caregivers might not pose the question as I did, but it comes down to whose welfare--life--is more important, the caregiver or the caree?

It's a brutally honest question so here's a brutally honest answer...The Caregiver's life is more important.

KEEP READING: This is the point at which some of you want to bail on me, but stick with me for a moment.

If you--the caregiver--don't take care of yourself you won't be able to take care of the caree. The reality of inflight instructions--put the mask on yourself first, then put it on your companions--is, as my grandmother used to say, the gospel.

So, give up the fight. Let yourself understand the C in CRAZY...Care...Care enough about yourself to understand that your welfare is most important, right now. Care enough to understand that as long as the caree is safe everything else is a bonus. Care enough to do whatever it takes to keep yourself away from the craziness.

Give up the fight.

Simply…take off the gloves, return to your corner, sit on the stool and take a breath, and ask, “Ok, what’s next?”

Monday, March 16, 2015

Most Dangerous In America

My hometown, Lumberton, has recently been chosen as the "Most Dangerous City in North Carolina" based on per-capita violent crime and property crime. If you search for "The Most Dangerous Counties in America," Robeson County, of which Lumberton is the county seat, is #2 on the list...Most...Dangerous...in...America.

So much of what's not good about Lumberton and Robeson County has to do with low levels of education/employment/income. Although, they just scored a great new corporate neighbor, Sanderson Farms, that will bring 1100 new jobs to the area!

Now, you're thinking, "What does this have to do with caregiving?"

Well, if you lived in an area that had a "Most Dangerous" tag and in which the average level of education wasn't very high and you wanted a job and you weren't willing to, or couldn't, move to somewhere more than two miles from mama and daddy and the people you grew with...and the health care industry was exploding...then, even though you might wish you were doing something else...anything else...working at a nursing home or care center might be a "good" job.

I keep thinking that some of the reasons above are why, when I walk into the nursing home in which my mother resides, I don't see many smiles. You'll hear, "I've been working here 24 years and I love my job," but she certainly didn't have a smile on her face when she said it.

HERE'S MY POINT: That's why I say "Thank You!" to almost everyone I meet in her facility. The nurses, CNAs, receptionists, administrators, admissions, maintenance and the lady changing the linens (especially her...how'd you like to change bedpans and soiled linens all day?).

Whether it's in Robeson County or We're-Richer-Than-Daddy Warbucks County the people who take care of those whom we love have a tough job. Thank them as often as you can and if you can take them a treat every now and then, do it.

Remember, they are the people who are hands-on, literally, and face-to-face, on an hourly basis, with the folks we love. The stresses they encounter on a daily basis, including their contact with us, family and friends of the caree, can go long way in making them CRAZY! Hearing "Thank You!" every now and then can offset some of the craziness.

Thank you.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Look What the Cat Dragged In!

I'd love to meet the caregiver who never has a negative thought. Their drugstore bill has to be unbelievable.

The "worry factor" for most of us as caregivers is so high that for years I've been teaching folks to think the word “Delete!” when their minds move into negative/unproductive thoughts and emotions.

I taught that if you catch yourself moving into a negative mental or emotional state simply start thinking or saying out loud the word, “Delete!” and keep saying it until it’s all you can focus on. Then push yourself to think about something positive or start a positive activity that moves you away from the negativity.

I’ve found something better!

Recently, I discovered that if, instead of “Delete!,” I used the phrase, “Look what the cat dragged in!,” it made me smile—sometimes laugh out loud—and I’ve found I can more easily move into a positive frame of mind. It works almost immediately!

Try it. When you feel yourself easing or jumping into a negative mental state think or say, “Look what the cat dragged in!” Or, come up with another phrase that you find outrageously funny.

No kidding, this works and it can be one of those little tricks that can keep you from going CRAZY!

***If you know another caregiver, or someone you know caregiving is making CRAZY! please forward this blog to them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Where's That Form I Need?!!

You've been on the phone to the doctor's office/insurance company/home care business for an hour and getting them to make a decision has come down to one thing...the form. There's a form you filled out/should have filled out and if you can get the form to them as soon as possible they can make a decision that helps you and your caree.

So, where's the form?

You think it's in the pile of stuff on the dining room table, or in a folder stuck in a drawer with all the other forms or maybe it's the one with the coffee ring on it held onto the refrigerator door with a Myrtle Beach magnet.

Being disorganized is stressful, expensive and downright overwhelming. Disorganization can make you CRAZY!

If you aren't as organized as you'd like to be today is your day. Today is National Organize Your Home Office Day.

Here are five simple tips to get and stay organized.

1. The 30-Second Secret: Don’t got to bed at night and don't walk out of the house without spending 30 Seconds straightening a few things up. Take 30 Seconds at any time of day and dump/organize a few things on your computer desktop. This is the magic, nothing-beats-this key to getting and staying organized. The cumulative effect of 30 Seconds is amazing.
2. Like Piles: Put things in piles of “like” activities and work your way through each pile. The Piles are: What do you need to take Action on? What do you need to Pass On to others? What do you need to File/Store? What’s in the “Mystery” pile? What do you need to Trash?
3. Get a Timer: Use the Timer on your phone or go to WalMart and spend $8 for a baking timer. Set it to 15-minutes and organize as much as you can. When the bell goes off you get to quit.
4. 2-Day Clean Up: Pick a day and spend a couple of hours purging all the stuff you can. Don't worry about cleaning up everything. Just throw away/give away as much as you can. Six months from now, pick another day and do the same thing. A few hours, twice a year, keeps you from being buried in stuff.
5. Prime Real Estate: If you don't have a desk at which you keep all your caregiving information where do you keep it? You need some sort of work center that makes it easy for you to find all the important documents you need; having them scattered around in a variety of places makes your life crazier. Even if it's simply one of those plastic, handle-on-the-top file boxes you can get at the office box stores or WalMart, that's better than having stuff scattered all over the house.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Say Yes! to Life

The "Y" in CRAZY stands for "Yes!"...say Yes! to life.

If you've seen or read stories about family caregiving in the media you'll know they fall into three categories. I call them, Just the Facts, So Sorry, and There, There.

The Just the Facts stories are just that, facts. One out of ten Americans are caregivers. Six percent of caregivers die due to caregiver stress. Working caregivers get fewer plumb job assignments due to the time, energy and focus their caregiving responsibilities take...facts, facts, facts.

The So Sorry stories usually follow caregivers around for a few hours or a day or a week and show how much of their lives are focused on caregiving. Some of the stories have a positive tone, but most of them are essentially saying, "So sorry, this is what your life is when you're a caregiver."

The There, There stories are supposed to be comforting, but they are basically patting the caregiver on the hand and saying, "There, there, things will be ok."

The caregivers who do the best job of moving through the experience say Yes! to life. They understand that their caregiving experiences take up a lot of time, energy and focus, but they make a point of finding activities, people, situations that bring them a sense of life, joy and engagement. They don't give up on saying Yes! to life.

Did you have a hobby before you became a caregiver? Maybe you can't be as fully engaged as in the past but you can probably find moments to participate in it, or read a magazine about it, or talk to someone about their experiences in the activity.

Are there people who make you feel happy, make you laugh, help you feel alive? Don't lose contact with them. Too often, caregivers let their responsibilities gradually or quickly create a shrinking world until their whole life is the person for whom they are caring.

On the other hand, friends/family/coworkers may not know how to act/react or they believe reaching out to the caregiver takes up valuable caregiving time. Or, every time they talk with the caregiver all they hear are complaints and the Oh, woe is me attitude about caregiving. It doesn't take much of that to turn them off.

However, having another caregiver to bounce ideas off of and with whom you can share your stresses is a good thing. Here's a strategy: When you talk with another caregiver you each get 3 minutes to talk about how difficult things are. Then, you each call time out and talk about positive things that are happening in your lives.

Be proactive, say Yes! to life and take a moment to reach out to the people in your life who matter. And, remember, as a caregiver you probably want it to be about you once in awhile, but take a moment to ask about the other person, about their family/friends/activities/job.

While your contact with others isn't supposed to be a therapy session for you, you'll find that it's therapeutic talking with someone about topics other than caregiving.

Put yourself in situations that remind you there's a world out there whether you are caregiving or not. Go to a museum or a game, get a massage, take a walk, go to a party or a movie, cook something you like (but then go for a walk after you eat it!), do SOMETHING that reminds you you're alive, you have a life other than caregiving!

Say Yes! to life. If you don't caregiving will make your life CRAZY.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Zero #2

In the last blog you saw that it's good idea to Zero in on your two biggest caregiving stressors. Yes, you'll have a lot of other responsibilities, but if you can figure out a way to deal with the two biggies it really takes a load off.

The second Zero is this: What are your two biggest stress relievers?

Now, let me set a few parameters. The stress reliever needs to be positive; overmedicating yourself with alcohol, drugs (legal or not), food, exercise or any other negative escape doesn't work in the long run. You're looking for positive activities, people and situations that move your mind from the caregiver stress that makes you CRAZY and into a more relaxed, peaceful zone.

A caregiver friend of mine loves movies so she watches funny, positive romantic comedies as often as she can. I know other people who use strategies such as moderate exercise, aromatherapy, long baths, massage, reading, counseling and other methods to deal with caregiver stress.

The key issue in finding two ways to deal with the stress is that you can switch from one to the other. One stress reliever gets tiresome after awhile, but two allows you to stay fresh.

So, Zero in on the two biggest stressors and come up with practical ways to lessen them if you can't eliminate them. And, find two big stress relievers that work for you.

If you're looking for ways to keep from going CRAZY the Zero strategy works...try it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Zero In On CRAZY

Here's where we are so far when determining your CRAZY level in caregiving:

C = Care (make sure the caree is safe)
R = Realistic (Expectations)
A = Ask (if you don't know keep asking questions)

The Z in CRAZY stands for Zero, as in, Zero in on the two issues that cause you most of your craziness and Zero in on the two people/activities/indulgences/thoughts that lower your stress level and help you keep the craziness at bay.

If I asked you to list all the things about caregiving that make you CRAZY you might have a really long list: professional caregivers, wandering, the caree asking multiple questions, having to deal with hygiene, impacts on your personal life...the list goes on and on.

Or, you might have a very short list: Having to keep up with all the paperwork and dealing with hygiene issues.

If you've ever heard of the 80/20 Rule, The Pareto Principle, you'll remember that it's called "the rule of the vital few." A few things cause most of your joys, most of your productivity and most of your problems.

So, the point here is to focus in on the vital few in a couple of areas: Challenges and Relief.

And yes, there's all that other stuff to take care of, but if you can focus in on the vital few you'll find that your feeling of control goes up and your craziness level goes down.

Take a moment and ask yourself, "What are the two issues about caregiving that really make me CRAZY?" Once you list the challenges ask yourself these questions (they are called the 5 D's):
- Can I Delay it?
- Can I Delegate It?
- Can I Diminish it (take a bite out of the problem a little at a time to make it smaller)?
- Can I simply not Do it (with no negative consequences to the caree?)?
- If the first four choices don't work can I simply Do it as quickly and effectively as possible and move on?

Stick with me. In the next blog I'll show you how to Zero in on the stress relievers.

***Don't forget to forward this blog to anyone you know who's a caregiver...help lower the craziness!