After Caregiving Ends


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao Tzu

March 9th! This day comes around every year and there is no way to avoid it. Sure, I could roll the covers over my head for the entire day and wallow in sadness, but what does that accomplish; more sadness, more isolation? I think not!

As I look back on these last four years, I see quite a bit of change in all facets of my life. There is the weight loss, the new moustache, establishing The Whole Care Network and TLO Cruises and Tours and of all things getting a tattoo!

 

The tattoo is probably the most outlandish thing I have ever done in my entire life, however the tattoo has so much meaning to me as I ACE, (After Caregiving Ends). I believe it is through the experience of the white flower and tattoo which has allowed me to work through my grief and (If you would like to learn more about the tattoo see my post entitled “We’ve Only Just Begun: White Flowers and Green Shoes by clicking here“) guide me on a peaceful path.

When Richard (aka TLO) made his life transition on March 9, 2104, two lives were forever changed. As I look back on what I wrote the three previous years on March 9, there is one constant theme, love endures. What is different for me on March 9, 2018 is that I have started to live life again and break out of my isolation.

As I wrote in “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” I believe there are four stages of grief that caregivers experience:

  1. Relief < caregiving has come to an end and the one you are caregiving is now pain-free
  2. Sadness < the life that you once knew is forever changed
  3. Guilt < when you realise that you move on with your life without the one you love
  4. Acceptance < that day when you wake up and say to yourself…”Job well done” and you’re ready to move on with your life with your head held hight.

It took me 15 months to get to the point when I could get to acceptance. What I realize this past year is that I left out one important stage in grief, taking…

5. Action < Moving from isolation and activate your hopes, dreams and desires.

Whether it was the experience of the while flower, the tattoo, starting the Whole Care Network, (I could use countless examples from this past year) these experiences that happened over the past 12 months made me realize that until I took action, I was going to continue to isolate myself and stay stuck in my own muck (Richard would be most displeased!). Taking action has not only has restored my confidence, taking action has allowed me step outside my comfort zone which has provided exciting opportunities for personal growth and fulfilment.

What I have learned along the way is just as caregiving is different for each one of us, life after caregiving is going to be different for each one of us too. Now four years past, I don’t miss him any less; I’ve learned to live with him, and the love, care and commitment we had for each other, in a different way.

It’s “funny” how taking action has allowed me to find deeper meaning to our love, care and commitment. I will be interested to see what March 9, 2019 brings to me on The Purple Jacket!

 

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Feeling Good When It’s Your Job To Care: Tips For Caregivers


Taking care of someone is a big job that often requires quite a bit of physical strength and emotional reserve. It can be difficult to manage your own life around someone else’s needs, and sometimes, that job can take a toll on your physical and mental health. For that reason, it’s imperative to make sure you take good care of yourself, learn to cope with stress and anxiety, and find ways to relax and focus on your own needs once in a while.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways you can do this. Managing your stress may seem like a difficult task, but there are things you can do to help yourself learn to cope in a healthy way no matter what is going on in your life. Not only will this allow you to focus on your own needs and boost your mental health, it will also help you find the motivation and energy you need to help your loved one or patient.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to practice self-care when you’re a caregiver.

Get enough rest

Adequate sleep–or a lack of it–can be one of the biggest reasons a person feels unable to cope with stress or anxiety. When you aren’t able to rest, your physical and mental abilities are reduced, making even the simplest of daily tasks difficult. There are several things you can do to help yourself get better rest, but it all starts with a good mattress that addresses your unique sleep needs. If your bedding is more than ten years old, or if you wake up in the morning feeling stiff and unrested, it’s time for a new mattress; be sure to check online for ones with good reviews.

Take a timeout

It can be overwhelming to try to handle everything in your own life when you’re taking care of someone else’s every need, but it’s important to try to take some time for yourself when you can. Whether that means heading out of town for an overnight trip or just sitting with a good book at the end of the day, think of small ways you can reduce stress and have some time to yourself. This isn’t always easy for caregivers to do, so talk to family members or coworkers to see if anyone can help out.

Eat right

Caregivers are more at risk than others for symptoms of depression or anxiety, and it’s common for them to not get enough rest or eat well-balanced meals every day. When you don’t eat right or stay hydrated, your mood and energy level can bottom out, leaving you feeling exhausted and irritable. If your schedule during the day (or night) is hectic, consider packing yourself several small, easy-to-eat snacks that will keep your blood sugar stable and help you get the nutrients you need. Cut-up veggies and hummus, string cheese, whole-wheat crackers, yogurt, and water or 100-percent fruit juice are great starts.

Treat yourself

When you get some time to yourself, make an effort to find a way to treat yourself. Get a massage or pedicure, spend some time doing something you love, or cook yourself a delicious meal. Finding small, healthy ways to make yourself happy will allow you to relax a little and take the weight of your job as a caregiver off your shoulders.

Feeling better when you spend so much time taking care of someone else can be difficult because it can lead to guilt or anxiety. Try to keep in mind that it’s just as important for your patient’s well-being as it is for yours, because you can’t be your best self when you’re tired or stressed out.

To learn more about June and her work visit: June Duncan 💚 june@riseupforcaregivers.org

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Can you claim compensation for a faulty pacemaker?


When they work properly, pacemakers can be lifesaving and have the potential to significantly improve quality of life even for those who are not at immediate risk of death.

Unfortunately, however, there have been a growing number of stories recently about people fitted with faulty pacemakers, which can have very serious health consequences, including the potential to be fatal for those with serious health conditions.

If you or a loved one have suffered harm to your health as a result of being fitted with a faulty pacemaker, you may be able to claim compensation depending on the circumstances. The manufacturer or retailer of the pacemaker (or anyone else involved in the production, distribution and sale of the device) may be legally responsible for the consequences of a faulty device. This could be grounds for a claim.

Who is liable for a faulty pacemaker?

This will depend on the circumstances. If the pacemaker was manufactured in the EU, you may be able to make a claim against the manufacturer or the retailer of the device. If the pacemaker was produced outside of the EU, you may be able to claim against the importer or the retailer.

It is also possible that others involved in the production, distribution and sale of the pacemaker may hold some degree of legal responsibility for the device, depending on the situation.

How have unsafe pacemakers ended up in use?

Under current EU rules, there is no single organization responsible for certifying medical devices as safe for use within the European Economic Area (EEA). Instead there are 58 different companies, known as ‘notified bodies’, who are allowed to issue CE marks approving medical devices for use in Europe.

This has resulted in varying standards between organizations for what is considered “safe”. Manufacturers, importers and retailers of medical devices are able to apply to as many of these organisations as they wish to try to secure a CE mark, meaning that even if a device is not considered safe by one notified body, companies seeking certification can simply keep trying other notified bodies until they get the result they need.

This scandal was uncovered as part of an investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, working in partnership with 59 media organisations around the world, including BBC PanoramaThe Guardian and the British Medical Journal.

How to claim compensation for a faulty pacemaker

If you or a loved one have been harmed by a faulty pacemaker, having expert legal guidance is essential to give you the best chance of securing fair compensation. Many claims can be resolved out of court, through negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), but court action may sometimes be required to achieve the right outcome for your interests.

Medical equipment failure claims can be complicated and contentious due to the high value of the potential compensation involved, so it is important to work with specialists with specific experience in these types of claims. That way you can be confident that all of the right details will be identified and considered, and no potential angle will be overlooked.

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Joining Together with A Shared Interest in Woodworking


We welcome back guest writer Jess Walter to The Purple Jacket!

Being a caregiver can take its toll on well being, but making time to take care of yourself by keeping up interests and hobbies, can alleviate stress and help you stay connected. Over 16 million American households enjoy woodworking as a hobby according to a study by The Craft and Hobby Association, making it one of the top four hobbies in the US. It continues to grow in popularity, as easy access to online tutorials and renewed interest in woodworking classes help to inspire new generations of DIYers. An age-old craft using body and mind to create something beautiful and practical, for a caregiver it is also is an engaging and a rewarding way to share an interest with the person they care for or to connect with people and make new friends at a local class.

Learning and Sharing Skills

Caring for someone can be challenging and an absorbing hobby like woodwork can provide a welcome break from daily duties.The pleasure gained from creating something from scratch is timeless, and woodworking can be an enjoyable pastime at any age. Home accessories or children’s toys are simple projects requiring minimal skills and are an easy way to get started. A woodworking workshop can be a social space where people learn from each other and, as confidence builds, making more complex such as small pieces of furniture that require routing and joints becomes more achievable. Whether a beginner or more advanced woodworker, using the right equipment can make light work of these projects, ensuring satisfaction at having created something useful and appealing.

Improving Your Brain

There may be times during the routine of caregiving when life becomes a drudge and this is when a hobby can provide welcome stimulation. As well as being a fulfilling pastime, woodworking can keep your mind sharp. Any pastime is good for mental stimulation but getting involved with crafting hobbies leads to participants being 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or memory loss. This is because woodworking is an activity that uses all areas of the brain and helps brain cells function better. You not only need the ability to physically cut wood, insert joints and add finishing touches but also to apply basic math and geometry in the planning stages of a project. With social interaction and communication being important elements of working together in a class, this problem-solving aspect of woodworking is also one which lends itself well to sharing ideas and creative solutions. Together, you can help each other decide the best way to join a corner on a drawer or whether or not to add an inlay to a table top.

A Healthy Distraction

Even if you are looking after someone with mild dementia, there are elements of woodworking that can be very rewarding for them to share too. It provides an absorbing diversion and helps form close friendships too. It can be empowering to take a piece of plain wood and cut and shape it into a useful object. Woodworking allows you both to be present in the moment, finding satisfaction in working with your hands. The touch and smell of the wood stimulates the senses and, for both of you, this mindful activity can be a healthy distraction from the day to day stresses of illness and caregiving. As a diversion, woodworking may carry on giving comfort through loss and grief, and the pieces you make with the person you care for become lasting mementos of a shared life.

Woodworking is a rewarding pastime for a carer. Creating a simple wooden toy or a chest of drawers gives a great sense of achievement and is a pleasurable way to be distracted. Making room in your life for an absorbing hobby is important to your own well being, giving you a welcome respite from daily caring duties and it can be a good way to build connections with new people or strengthen bonds with loved ones.

“Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.” Jess Walter <jesswalterwriter@gmail.com>

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When You Should Say “No” in Caregiving


We welcome back guest writer, Kayla Matthews to The Purple Jacket!

Caregiving for an elderly relative is a role that falls on different family members and professional caregivers depending on the family and expectations. And many families often fail to discuss how much responsibility a caregiver should take on and for how long.

When the time comes for a parent or grandparent to have extra help, you may feel the burden and stress of assuming this role. Although you love and respect the person and want to give them your support, it may not always be the best option. Or you may currently be a caregiver, but the stress and work are harming your social, emotional or physical health.

It’s common to feel guilty or unsure how to tell an aging person “no” or to tell your family that you can’t handle the load. But when is it the right time to say “no” to caregiving or simply take a step back from your current involvement? Let’s look at when and how you should voice the need for change while preserving your family relationships and your consideration for the person.

When You Need to Set Limits

Limits can help you to establish boundaries for your involvement as a caregiver or to say, “Hold on for a minute!” when the person in your care requests something. You and your siblings may need to share the responsibilities of care if your life has been consumed by the person’s needs and wants.

Boundaries are a right and a healthy function of families. In your caregiving role, you continually need a set of limitations to regulate healthy interactions. If you feel undue stress and over-involvement, you are likely exceeding an appropriate level of care. It is acceptable to say “no” when you are overextending yourself without limits.

When You Need Help

If you feel you are unable to handle caregiving duties on your own, you should ask for assistance. Whether you can’t tend to all of the person’s needs or balance their medical requirements, asking for help is appropriate. It’s difficult to be vulnerable and admit you need help, but it will be better for you and the person you’re caring for.

Rather than stretching yourself too thin, reach out to other relatives and your support system to find others to share the load. Home-delivered meals and caregiver counseling are a few resources you can use, too.

How to Say No

Saying “no” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hurting the person who needs care — in the long run, it will help them. You can say “no” to caregiving by sitting down with your family for an honest conversation. Have this discussion at the beginning of the process to make roles and responsibility clear from the start.

When you see that the situation has to change, reconsider what is best in a caregiving role and what the aging person needs. Family members may react differently than you expect if you need to take a step back. But remember, you don’t always need to explain yourself.

When you are caregiving and you have to say “no” to a senior’s requests, simply tell them, “I can’t do that right now. Please wait.” They may not understand why you can’t do everything they ask, especially if dementia or Alzheimer’s has set in, but you can communicate a firm resolve with patience to them.

Benefits of Saying No

Saying “no” helps you maintain your own health and establish a safe, controlled environment for the person in your care. The following results can come from saying you can’t do it all:

  • The aging person gets better support from other caregivers or family.
  • You maintain healthy boundaries and reinforce your emotional and mental stamina.
  • You know how to say “no” next time.

Establish Healthy Boundaries as a Caregiver

Whether you are a professional caregiver or a family member stepping in, you can be confident and honest when saying “no” to overextending yourself. Communicate your feelings and needs as soon as possible with the people in an aging person’s life.

Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

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CPR The Basics and Beyond


I’m Steve Crain, Co-Owner of CPR Northwest Washington, a CPR, AED, and First Aid training and certification service for the lay person up to more advanced healthcare professionals. As one of the best BLS training centers in Seattle (and the entire Puget Sound area) we strive to continue excellence in our field for years to come.
Phone Number: 206-637-9602

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5 Warning Signs of Abuse Caregivers Should Look Out For


We welcome back guest writer, Kayla Matthews to The Purple Jacket.

As a caregiver, you want the elderly people you look after to feel safe and comfortable. Whether they live at home or in an assisted living facility, their health and continued well being relies in part on the safety of the other people in their environment. While many caregivers show elderly clients the utmost respect, others may not always have their best interests at heart.

Elder abuse is any intentional action that harms or could bring harm to an elderly person. Anyone can commit elder abuse — including caregivers, family members, friends and strangers — and the abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial or neglectful in nature. It’s easy to see how any act of abuse could cause a decline in an older adult’s health or quality of life.

Unfortunately, incidents of elder abuse are more common than many people assume. Around 10 percent of elders experience some form of elder abuse, according to one comprehensive review. Despite the prevalence of abuse, it remains under-reported, which makes it difficult to address effectively.

Reporting suspected elder abuse is the best way caregivers and other individuals can help address this widespread problem. Detecting abuse has proven difficult, though, especially because people may confuse signs of abuse with symptoms of aging or other conditions like dementia.

In order to notice and report elder abuse, people need a clear understanding of the signs related to abuse. Here are five warning signs caregivers should look out for.

1. Unexplained Injuries

Unexplained injuries may be signs of physical abuse. These injuries can range from small bruises or cuts to broken bones, though you may also watch for subtler signs of nursing home abuse like restraint markings on the wrists or ankles.

If you notice injuries that seem suspicious, talk to the person about it. If they don’t have an explanation or if the same injuries keep coming up again and again, it could be a sign of physical abuse.

2. Changes in Behavior

Emotional or other kinds of abuse may result in behavioral changes. These could include increased fear, withdrawn personality or lack of interest in previously enjoyed social activities.

An abuser may isolate a victim, making them more vulnerable, so it’s important to combat their mistreatment by staying in contact with loved ones frequently and paying attention to possible behavior changes. If you notice any signs of emotional abuse, consider reporting them.

3. Signs of Neglect

Though neglect may not be intentional, it can pose a serious danger to an older person’s safety, so it is often included in definitions of elder abuse. Signs of neglect may include unclean living conditions, dehydration or malnutrition or bed welts, which develop when a person is not turned often enough in bed. An elderly person may also experience neglect if they are abandoned or left alone in public.

Neglect is a serious form of elder abuse, so you may also need to report it in addition to other forms of mistreatment.

4. New Financial Troubles

Some people intentionally take advantage of an older person’s money or financial vulnerability through scams or simply asking for money. Signs of financial abuse include missing checks, strange bank charges and a sudden inability to pay bills on time.

Contrary to popular belief, family members are the most common perpetrators of financial abuse, so it’s important to pay attention to these risks regardless of the older adult’s living situation.

5. A Hovering Caregiver

A caregiver who refuses to leave an older person alone may also be a sign of abuse. Though this behavior may seem sweet or attentive, it could be used to intimidate the person and keep them from discussing their mistreatment.

If you suspect abuse, try to discuss it with the person alone, away from anyone who may try to influence the conversation.

Reporting Elder Abuse

These aren’t the only signs of elder abuse. Because every situation is different, the signs of abuse may vary. If you notice these or other signs, though, you may consider reporting abuse to an appropriate authority like the police or adult protective services.

By educating yourself and others about the problem and reporting elder abuse when you recognize it, you can help keep the older adults in your community safe, healthy and happy.

Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

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How to Deal with the Illness of a Spouse


While some people choose to be a caregiver by profession, for others, at times it just happens. You can’t predict what direction life will go in, however, it’s often instinctive for humans to adapt. You may be experiencing this if a loved one has recently fallen ill, or perhaps they’ve been so for some time now. It can be especially difficult if you’ve become the caretaker of a spouse who is coping with an illness. You’ve probably learned or are still learning the art of taking it a day at a time and doing the best you can to cope. Here are a few ways you can deal with your circumstances.

Find Peace in the Situation

It can be emotionally difficult when your spouse becomes ill, especially when it happens suddenly. However, in order to get through it the best you can, you should try and find peace in the situation. This means accepting the things that are beyond your control and not blaming yourself for what’s happened. By doing this, you’ll be able to focus on the practical side of giving your spouse the love and support they need during this difficult time.

Learn About Their Illness

One of the best things you can do for both yourself and your spouse is learn about the illness that they’re battling. Get as much information as possible from a health professional so you know exactly how to support and care for them. It may also help to find a support group that can give you tips, ideas, and a listening ear when you need one. In addition to this, following your loved one to appointments and reminding them to take medications can help them feel loved and cared for.

Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes, when a spouse becomes ill it can put a strain on your relationship. While being patient and loving is important, so is looking after yourself. If your wellbeing isn’t in a good place, you won’t be able to give your spouse the support they need or keep the household together. In light of this, learn to take time out for yourself without feeling guilty for doing so. If you feel that the relationship is coming to an end and it’s becoming toxic for you to remain in the same household, you may want to think about contacting Crisp & Co Solicitors to explore your options for separation or divorce.

Do Things You Love

It’s easy to find that you’re mellow and sad every day when your spouse is ill. This won’t help matters, however. Instead, find ways to get rid of any stress or sadness you’re feeling and lift your spirits. One way that you can do so is by learning to meditate a few times a day and find the beauty in the now. Also, learning to laugh and give to others who may be going through hard times could also help.

Nobody hopes to have to endure someone they love or care about being ill. However, it is sometimes an unavoidable part of life, so how you deal with it is what matters the most. Finding joy, peace, and hope in the midst of your predicament could go a long way in getting you through each day.

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How to Keep Your Body Healthy as You Age


There is no way to stop aging. Though it is often seen negatively, with many people wishing to grasp onto their youth, there is a certain beauty in having lived a life full of great memories and special moments.

However, you would be lucky to encounter next to no health problems when you begin to age, as your body becomes more vulnerable to chronic conditions and health threats. It can be easy to feel as though you are fighting a losing battle when it comes to aging, but there is a multitude of ways in which you can keep your body healthy in your everyday life.

If you are struggling to find ways of doing this, you should take note of some ever-important advice.

  1. Watch out for health problems

No matter what age you are, people have a habit of ignoring their body when there are clear problems that need addressing. As you get older, these problems can impact your quality of life more if they are not resolved. Though you should bear in mind common health problems like fatigue and indigestion, you should also note any symptoms of issues like arthritis, which are more prevalent in the older generations. Among the most common of these are blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks. Taking a low-dose aspirin like Cartia can reduce the risk of having blood clots to begin with.

  1. Visit your doctor often

Spotting these problems is one thing, but doing something about them is another. Although certain remedies can be made and enjoyed at home, there will be times when it is better to seek support from your doctor.

While it is a good idea to speak to a medical professional at the first sign of a health problem, it is better to go for regular check-ups with your local doctor. This means they can check if everything is in working order, and they can give you some handy tips on how you can improve your health at home. Perhaps most importantly, they can spot any underlying health problems that you may not have noticed yourself.

  1. Exercise regularly

Having regular exercise is something that everyone can benefit from. As you age, there is no exception, but there are changes you must make to your exercise routine if you want to maximize your health.

Though you should aim for maintaining a healthy weight, you should also remember that high-impact sports may do more harm to your bones and muscles than good. Instead, you should find some gentler sports to participate in a few times a week. For example, exercises like Pilates can improve your bone and muscle health, without the strain that sports like weightlifting may afford. It has also been proven to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, which is something your body will need as time goes on.

  1. Spend time outside

It is a sad truth that many older people spend less time outdoors than they did before. Mostly, this is due to adverse weather conditions increasing their risk of having an accident. Yet there are many benefits your body can enjoy by spending as much time in the great outdoors as you can. Ideally, you should try and spend a few minutes in the sun each day with sunscreen on, so your body can glean all the Vitamin D it needs for youthful skin. You might consider combining exercise and the natural world by going on long walks, where your body can absorb lots of oxygen and your mental wellbeing will also improve.

  1. Eat a balanced diet

Rarely is regular exercise recommended without having a balanced diet on the side. In fact, your body will need lots of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants to keep it healthy. It is easy to find such nutrients in colorful fruits and vegetables, but lean meats and carbohydrates are also an essential part of any diet. Every day, you should dedicate some time to cooking easy, wholesome meals, which will ensure you are getting all the goodness you need.

One thing you should never neglect from your diet is water, as drinking above the recommended daily intake will keep your body free from toxins and prevent your skin from showing signs of aging.

  1. Cut out unhealthy foods

Though there are many foods you should make a conscious effort with to include in your diet, there are some others which should be cut out when you get older. It is imperative to enjoy some of your favorite foods sometimes, but this should not be all the time, as foods rich in fats, salt and caffeine can only cause more health problems than it is worth. This is also the same with alcohol and any other dangerous substances, which can put a big strain on your heart and mind over time.

  1. Sleep more

Fatigue is something that people of any age can experience, but it is, unfortunately, something that becomes more common as you age. You may find new ways of stopping this fatigue, such as having peppermint tea to wake you up every morning, but you must also listen to your body.

If you are feeling tired, it is wise to make some time to sleep, so your body can regain enough energy to enjoy the activities you love. Eating a nutrient-rich diet and following a good exercise routine are both great ways of tackling this problem.

  1. Prioritize your mental wellbeing

One of the biggest myths out there is that your mind and body are separate. What affects your mental wellbeing will also affect your body, such as when depression leads to severe episodes of fatigue. It may also be true that you get lonelier as you get older, which can have some impact on your mental health.

When it comes to prioritizing your wellbeing, you should make time to practice self-care, like reading your favorite book or seeing old friends. Giving yourself small moments of happiness will have a positive effect on your brain, and therefore your body.

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5 Symptoms of Caregiver Burnout


Serving as a caregiver to an ailing family member takes a lot of both physical and emotional resources. No matter how much you love the person, the extra work and stress take a toll. Caregiver burnout is a common concern. There are about 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. Family caregivers spend over 24 hours a week caring for their loved ones. If the person lives with their caregiver, the average hours go up to more than 40 hours a week.

That level of hands-on care is like adding a high-stress full-time job on top of the other tasks the person may have on their packed schedule. Burnout is a real issue and one that many caregivers experience. Symptoms of caregiver burnout include:

1. Feeling Irritable

Caregiving is physically demanding in some cases, which can lead to physical exhaustion. In addition, you may feel worried about your ailing parent or child and not sleep well. The combination of exhaustion and stress leads to irritability that can hurt both you and the person you take care of. If you find yourself easily aggravated, you likely aren’t getting enough rest.

The solution is to find at least a few hours a week where you can get away from it all and relax. You might have to hire a nurse to come in for a few hours or ask for help from another family member. Taking time to refresh your inner being allows you to better care for your loved one the rest of the week.

2. Withdrawal From Friends and Activities

Working long hours without recognition leads to burnout just as it does in an outside job. Caregiving is often a thankless job. The person you’re caring for may feel too ill to explain their appreciation or may not have the mental faculties to express their gratitude. As you start to feel hopeless over the situation and unappreciated, you may pull away from friends who don’t have the same burdens. Going to the activities you enjoyed in the past may seem like just one more thing you have to do.

Find at least one good friend to confide in about how you’re feeling. Talking to others who’ve been through the caregiving process not only makes you feel understood but gives you tips from someone who’s been through it.

3. Feeling Hopeless

If you’re caring for an elderly parent, they may have multiple doctors all telling you something different. The prognosis might not be a positive one, and you may also grieve the waning time you have left with someone you love dearly. Feelings of hopelessness are common in caregivers.

Take the time to talk to medical professionals about the exact prognosis for your loved one. You can engage with numerous healthcare experts, look up informational videos, or attend caregiving keynote events. This could help you clear up some of your concerns or at least some new ways to deal with the disease.

4. Changes in Appetite

You’re busy running here and there and everywhere. Your diet may grow poor, either filled with processed, unhealthy food or lack of meals. Empathetic people have a hard time putting themselves first and may take care of their loved one and not take care of themselves.

If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s hard to take care of someone else. If you get sick, what will your loved with do? Is there anyone else who would step up and take your place? Make your own health a priority. Eat regular meals and make sure they’re nutrient filled.

5. Attitude Changes

If you’ve always been an upbeat person and suddenly you’re making cynical comments and having nasty internal thoughts, then you might be approaching burnout. Studies show that the psychological effects are more intensive than the physical effects of caregiving.

If you notice your attitude has changed from an upbeat one to a negative one, that’s a sign of burnout. Don’t feel afraid to ask for help with the overwhelming amount of tasks you have to complete. Make a list of responsibilities and figure out who could help with some of them and reduce your burden.

Burnout Doesn’t Mean Failure

Caregiver burnout is simply your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down and take a break. It doesn’t mean you don’t love the person dearly or that you’re a bad person in any way. Listen to what your brain and body are telling you, ask for help if you need it and seek out people in similar situations who can serve as a sounding board and resource to draw upon.

Kayla Matthews is a lifestyle and productivity writer whose work has been featured on Lifehacker, The Next Web, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. You can read more posts from Kayla on her blog, Productivity Theory.

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How to Care For Yourself When Caring For Someone With Alzheimer’s


The first step in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is caring for yourself. After all, you can only give away something you already possess. Yet taking care of a person facing cognitive decline can tax the abilities of even the most devoted among us.

We can’t wave a magic wand and make the issues you’re facing disappear. But we can offer some tips to help you bear up, even when the burden seems unbearable. So let’s look at ways to care for yourself while you’re caring for another.

Step One: Know the Risks

No soldier goes into battle without knowing the hazards ahead of time. This is just as true for those who fight on the frontlines of human need. So let’s look at the challenges you’re likely to face during times to come:

  • Irregular sleep patterns or insufficient rest. Caregivers must respond to situations as they present themselves, whether that’s in the light of day or the middle of the night.
  • Missed meals or unhealthy foods. You may get so wrapped up in the other person’s needs that you forget to eat. Or you may find yourself pressed for time and eating whatever is at hand, which isn’t always the healthiest option.
  • Chronic mental or physical health issues. Caregivers are at elevated risk for problems like clinical depression, according to the National Caregivers Alliance (NCA).

We mention these facts, not to discourage you, but to help you to prepare for the challenges ahead. Now let’s look at how to equip yourself for the task.

Step Two: Educate Yourself

Most people are better able to deal with challenges when they know a little about what they’re facing. So begin by learning about Alzheimer’s: its causes, its symptoms, and how it affects patients over the course of time. This will help you to marshal your resources when you need them the most.

Step Three: Ask for Help in the Right Way

By this we mean asking for help with specific duties like preparing foods, washing clothes, giving medications, and tending to the patient’s personal needs. This will help to avoid miscommunications and enable others to know how best they can support your efforts.

Do you own a dog? Pets provide comfort and companionship when you need them most. They can lift your spirits and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. But sometimes it’s best to let someone else handle your pup’s needs, at least on occasion. For example, letting a dog walker take your pooch for a stroll can save you from having to multitask at the worst possible time.

Step Four: Take Time Out, Even If It’s Only a Few Minutes

Taking a timeout is essential for performing any task well, according to HuffPost. So give yourself permission to step away for a while and get your head together. This will help you to help the person for whom you’re caring.

Step Five: Remember You’re Not Alone

More than 5,000,000 Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. For each of those people, there’s someone else whose job is to provide the best possible care the situation allows. This means there are hundreds of thousands of people going through trials similar to yours. Many of these folks meet together, either online or in person, to offer support and a sympathetic ear. Reach out to one of these groups if you can. You may find the help you need to keep going. You might even form treasured friendships that last the rest of your life.

Being a caregiver is never easy. It will test your limits at times. But it can also reveal to you strengths and abilities you never knew you had. We wish you all the best as you travel with your loved one through the days to come.

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.  June can be reached at June Duncan <june@riseupforcaregivers.org>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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