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Aging Parents: Crisis Mode

The following blog is re-posted with permission from a blog I read a lot. Thanks so much to Elder Care Consultant for allowing My Mother’s Caregiver to share these and many other great tips for seniors and caregivers.

This particular article touched a nerve with me, since it was so similar to our personal experience. I hope it is helpful to you too. The original can be found at:http://myeldercareconsultant.com/2013/04/05/aging-parents-crisis-mode/

April 5, 2013

Emergency Room

Aging Parents: Crisis Mode

Chances are the first time you’re asked to step in and help your aging parents it will be during a time of crisis. You may be setting in a hospital intensive care unit as you read this or your head may be spinning with bad news from your mom or dad’s physician.  You may be making that frantic long distant trip by plane to be by their side; unsure of what you’ll find when you get there.  I’ve been there both professionally and personally and I want you to know you are not alone and things will get better.

Tips for Managing

Don’t Panic: If it takes a state of denial or a quick call to your therapist or minister, don’t panic. Take a deep breath, focus on what’s in front of you and don’t get overwhelmed by the “what ifs”.  You may be in a situation that is out of your control and it may take a few hours or days of simply putting one foot in front of the other before it all unfolds. Your mantra is “one step at a time”!

Manage What You Can: If you are just entering the world of elder care, you’re in for a big shock.  Navigating the health care system is frustrating and at times you’ll feel like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole.  Manage what you can: call friends and family, identify your resources and support systems, confirm that the hospital has accurate personal information, keep notes in a journal.  Manage what you can and know that it all unfolds in due time!

Educate Yourself: Don’t count on professionals to be transparent (more on this at another time). Whatever your situation, you want to make your decisions based in knowledge not fear. Ask questions, call local organizations (Area Agency on Aging or Alzheimer’s Association) and yes use the internet (with caution) to locate information. The information you discover now may come in handy down the road!

Be Aware of Emotions:  Stepping in to your aging parent’s life during a crisis may trigger some emotional baggage for you. I don’t care how far you’ve moved or how much psychotherapy you’ve endured, your buttons are going to be pushed. You may feel like an angry teenager or helpless child. Acknowledge it, identify what you feel and save it for another day. Now is not the time to dredge up past grievances or issues.  The next few days are going to be an emotional roller coaster; manage it!

Stay in the Moment: While it’s important to make decisions based on two steps down the road, it’s just as important to stay in the moment and not get  caught up in the “what ifs”.  This can create the type of anxiety that will paralyze you. Decisions are going to have to be made related to what’s happening now not two or three weeks from now.  Managing your elder care crisis is a process that will unfold and stressing out over what may or may not happen is not going to help you or your aging parent.  By staying in the moment, you focus on the important issues!

I hope these tips for managing your aging parent’s crisis have helped you in some way. I’ve been in your shoes and even with all of my experience and education it was still difficult. The fear, the anxiety and that overwhelming feeling of helplessness can really put you in a bad spot. Remember that everyone’s crisis is unique and unfolds differently; this too shall pass and you will survive.

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Caregiver Fatigue

Caregiver Fatigue, Guilt and Anxiety

This week  we welcome guest blogger, Mark Hall, a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. Whether caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s or caring for a loved one with cancer – the issues, burdens and emotions are the same.

Here are some tips to help  you (the caregiver) take care of you:

Caring for an ill or disabled family member can be a daunting task. It can take a physical and emotional toll on the caregiver.

Fatigue, guilt and anxiety are common feelings that a primary caregiver may experience. Understanding what causes these feelings, in addition to learning ways to prevent, can improve the quality of life for a caregiver.

Beyond learning about the causes and ways to prevent fatigue and related symptoms, it is important to understand that resources exist to help caregivers throughout this process. Acknowledging the need for help is part of identifying that you may be going through caregiver burnout.

What Is Caregiver Burnout?

According to experts, caregiver burnout is classified as the condition of mental, physical or emotional fatigue that often results from caring for a sick or disabled loved one. This exhaustion happens when caregivers don’t receive the care that they need themselves.

Symptoms of caregiver burnout include:

  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Irritability
  • Changes in eating habits and weight
  • Less interaction with family and friends
  • Unusual sleeping patterns
  • Getting ill more frequently
  • Wanting to harm yourself or the patient
  • Overall unhappiness

Feelings of anger and guilt may also stem from the caregiver feeling bad about wanting to spend time on themselves instead of their ill family member. This is common and rational. There are various ways to prevent these feelings and all the symptoms associated with caregiver burnout.

How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

Despite the normalcy associated with caregiver fatigue and guilt, it can be prevented. If you are the primary caregiver, the most important and general action you can take is to take care of yourself. You will not be an effective caregiver if you don’t feel good.

At the beginning of your caregiving responsibilities – or, ideally before you begin providing care – research and educate yourself on the disease or condition of the person you are caring for. Understand what they are going through, what side effects are common and what you should expect of that type of patient. For more information please visitwww.asbestos.com

You need to take occasional breaks to give yourself time to relax and recharge. Don’t overwork yourself because then you will become ineffective. Delegating responsibilities to other family members and friends can also help relieve some stress. Allow them to take a role in the caregiving process as well.

Joining a Support Group

As a caregiver, you can benefit tremendously from available resources like support groups. Connecting with individuals who are going through the same difficulties as you will prove to be inspiring, encouraging and relieving.

To find a support group, get a recommendation from a local doctor or specialist or utilize informational tools like the internet. This can be one of the best decisions a caregiver can make for themselves and for the people they are caring for.

Bio: Mark Hall is a writer for the Mesothelioma Center. Between his interests in environmental health and his writing experiences, Mark has committed to communicating relevant news and information regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure and breakthroughs in mesothelioma treatments.

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