by Shawna Wasko, M.Olp, PI/Nutrition Contracts Manager
Last month I wrote about the 5 biggest issues that sabotage family caregivers. I did an overview from a Caring.com article, written by author Paula Spencer Scott. I only covered the first two issues that sabotage family Caregivers: Privacy issues and ignoring sleep deprivation. This month we will discuss the other three biggest issues: Lone-soldier syndrome, Not anticipating what’s coming next, and Overwhelming care tasks. Scott calls these issues, Sore Points.
Sore Point #3: Lone Soldier Syndrome
The number one complaint I hear from my Caregivers is, “no one in the family will help me with Caregiving!” So, yes we get the lone-soldier syndrome. Usually, one person takes on the full burden of Care-giving. That would be me, and probably is you also. The truth is, as I have found out; it takes a whole army to manage Caregiving effectively, explains Scott. My one brother helps me a little and he recently went after my other brother and sister. He shamed them, yelled at them. End result? My sister now helps out a little. So get Respite (a break from Caregiving), seek help from a counselor if you experience depression and join a Support Group.
My Caregiver Group meets at the Office on Aging on the CSI campus, the first Monday of the month (unless it is a holiday) from 1 pm – 2:30 pm. All Caregivers are welcome.
Sore Point #4: Not Anticipating What’s Coming Next
Do you feel as a Caregiver you are constantly putting out fires? I do. So make contingency plans and live in the moment, Scott says. Get information on the disease the care receiver has, so you can anticipate the stages. Visit Nursing Homes. We have lists of them here at the Office on Aging; the list is broken down to include: rates, who takes Medicaid, who takes memory care, who takes pets, etc. I have said for years that you should walk into the Nursing Home before you walk your loved one into one. Also, do wills and power of attorneys. Prepare. The sad fact is that our loved ones usually do not get better. It is so hard to watch my parents fade away slowly.
Sore Point #5: Overwhelming Care Tasks
According to Scott, incontinence is the leading cause of nursing-home placement. So do adult diapers, check medications that may help or exacerbate the problem, and do a toileting schedule. Wandering is another big issue. Get floor alarms, locks, and learn ways to reduce anxiety, suggests Scott. I take a day on a weekend and do medication management and laundry for my parents. Usually around 5-6 hours. I bring them dinner usually, too. It is easier for me to go once or twice then to go over every day. Of course, John Steinbeck said in his book Of Mice and Men, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Awry, that’s me, often awry.
I say the care task that usually is done last or not at all is caring for yourself. It is the most important but the hardest task to do. If we give up on ourselves, it will create a domino effect. Everything will fail. Get help even if you have to hire it.