Helping Caregivers Tend to Themselves
By Bill Beckwith
Caregiving takes an enormous emotional and physical toll even when it is a labor of love and/or obligation.
In the case of caring for someone wi th progressive memory loss, a spouse or child often has to parent their partner or parent. This sets up a natural and sad antagonism. The caregiver must set limits and enforce rules (nag and be bossy) and the care receiver is unaware that they need the guidance as they forget that they forget and resent and resist rather than appreciate the efforts on their behalf.
Take for example the case of a caregiver (partner or child) who is caring for her very forgetful but very bright husband/father. He is so forgetful that he cannot monitor how much money he spends in any given month and is prone to overspend. His partner/daughter has to put him on a budget (remove credit cards and take over the finances) so he has money to continue to live in his home. He is understandably angry and resentful. She is sad, anxious, hurt and feels guilty.
Furthermore, he forgets to take his medications despite an organized pill box and this must be managed by others.
Finally, there is the issue of whether he is still safe to drive and needs a driving evaluation. He is irate; she is tearful and overwhelmed. Once all of these issues are resolved and he gets over his anger and used to the new structure, things will settle down — in time.
These conflicts take its toll on both caregiver and care receiver and create many gut-wrenching dilemmas. Treatment must be sensitive to both parties. We often neglect caregivers in the formula as they may be prone to refuse assistance as they don’t want to burden others. The most effective caregiving is accomplished by balancing the needs of the one you love and your own needs. Treatment is simple to state but difficult to implement. Try some of these strategies but remember nothing works every time.
Home care counselors at Andelcare are available to talk with you about your live-in home care needs including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable in home care in Seattle WA and the surrounding communities.