Mar 8, 2011, 3:35 PM
Post #1 of 1
I feel overwhelmed being a caregiver. What can I do to give myself a chance to succeed at this? Barbara in Idaho, 57
Letís face it: Caregiving is a very difficult and potentially exhausting challenge. Many caregivers have the role thrust upon them with no prior experience or proven acumen. It can be an overwhelming situation for many people. If you find yourself in the role of caregiver to an elder loved one, you need a structure that can help you get things under control. Thatís what Iíll provide here.
Once you list out your elderís ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), you can gain a better understanding of your elderís true needs. You can then prioritize your tasks, and figure out who (family and friends) can help you for free and when you need to hire help. It can be overwhelming if youíre trying to do everything, and thatís when caregivers fall apart. In fact, Iíve seen many caregivers pass away before the elder theyíre caring for due to the stress of the ďjobĒ and lack of focus on themselves.
When youíre dealing with an elder, they usually like and even need routine. But they also like variety. So I try to provide routine for the ADLs such as bathing, grooming, oral care, clothing, food, and medications. Then itís important to supply variety in your elderís social life. This could include visits with friends and family, religious services, volunteering, and senior center outings. I also highly recommend that every elder get at least 15 minutes of sun and fresh air each day so they can remain in touch with the world at large. Itís more important than you think for your elder to see kids and animals and neighbors and the community around them. It also helps them have a restful sleep.
You have to keep your elderís nails and hands clean. I always buy a nailbrush, regular soap, and disinfectant soap. If your elder can choose their own clothing, let them do it. If they are walking or in a wheel chair, insist that their shoes are polished and heels are not too worn. I like my clients to be as immaculate as can be. Iron their clothing and be sure it matches, even if they arenít going anywhere that day. Looking good makes everyone feel better about themselves.
Your elder needs to have a supply of food in their home that is fresh and nutritious and appropriate for their age and dietary or medical constraints. The fridge should be kept clean and free of odors, and any old food should be tossed upon sight/smell.
Finally, you have to manage your elderís medications on a weekly, and sometimes, daily basis to ensure that the correct meds are taken at the right time and in the right dosage. Through trial and error, find a system that works for you and your elder and stick with it. Also be sure that there is a two-week supply of your elderís medication in the house. This applies to food and water as well, since itís vital to be prepared in case of emergency or unforeseen contingencies.
Taking care of the ADLs allows you to think through your caregiving responsibility in a very practical way. This process eliminates frustrations and gives the caregiver a clearer picture of whatís needed. Facing a caregiving challenge in a practical, organized manner also allows a caregiver to be in control of her or her own life. Ultimately, this leads to better caregiving, and thatís what itís all about.
During the past three decades, Marion Somers, Ph.D., (Doctor Marion) has provided care for more than 2,000 elderly clients while she owned and operated a thriving Geriatric Care Management practice. It is now her goal to help caregivers everywhere by providing valuable insights and information in her book, website, and radio PSAs. To purchase Doctor Marion's book and to find a wealth of elder care information, please visit DoctorMarion.com
Elder Care Made Easier is available in bookstores and online at: Amazon