Caregiver Stress Can Show in Body Language, Causing Negative Results All Around
by Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor-in-Chief
Our body language affects those we care for. If we are stressed and our movements show it, our care receiver is likely to feel that stress. That, in turn, can make the care receiver more stressed and cranky. We then can create a negative cycle. Ideally, caregivers will learn to work off stress away from the care receiver, so that he or she can present a calm and loving presence for his or her loved one.
Have you ever had a day where you realize, after the fact, that your movements were jerky, you were hurried with everything you did, your teeth were clenched, perhaps your breathing was shallow? If you haven’t, most caregivers would like to know your secret. A perfect caregiver would never let his or her stress be evident around the care receiver. However, we are imperfect human beings.
Coping with the needs of an elder or a spouse with dementia can be especially stressful; however, any long-term elder care is something that can take a physical, mental and emotional toll on nearly anyone.
When dementia is part of the picture
People with dementia, particularly advanced dementia, are often only able to comprehend the here and now. Therefore, the fact that this person may have asked the same question of the caregiver every five minutes for an hour is just a reflection that this is what is going on in the care receiver’s mind.
So, if your dad asks, “When’s Henry picking me up?” that’s just what your dad is thinking. He doesn’t remember asking you about it. He’s just pondering the fact that Henry is his old friend who he went to a men’s coffee group with during their work years. He can’t remember that not only is the group no longer meeting, but that most of the attendees, including Henry, are deceased.
The first time, today, your dad asks this question, you answer sweetly and with compassion, “Dad, I’m afraid Henry can’t make it today.” You’ve already made peace with the fact that you can’t go into why Henry can’t “make it”, since your dad can’t remember the reasons anyway.
The caregivers at Andelcare are available to talk with you and your family about all of your elder care needs. Andelcare is a home care agency providing quality, affordable elder care in Seattle and the surrounding areas. Call 888-788-3051 for more information.