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6 Characteristics of Caregiving Excellence


We welcome back guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket

Isn’t it always nice when you encounter someone who takes their job seriously? You could be checking out at Target or ordering from the drive-thru at Starbucks, but if the employee you encounter goes above and beyond, it can make your entire day. This goes tenfold for caregivers.

Taking your job seriously as a caregiver means caring for your patient or loved one as you would care for yourself.

If you strive to achieve caregiving excellence, you probably exhibit these six characteristics:

1.    A strong sense of empathy

Oftentimes, it seems as though caregiving takes about 110% of your energy. If you’re not careful, it can consume you completely. Whenever you feel like you’re about to break, try not to follow those thoughts. Instead, think about what the other person is experiencing. This sort of reflection is likely something you often do, but it is especially helpful in the difficult times.

Let’s say your patient or loved one is having a bad day. She feels awful and is in the worst of moods. You’re doing everything you can to make her more comfortable, but all she can do is yell and snap at you. This is a great time to remind yourself of the importance of empathy. How would you feel if you were in her shoes? Although it’s easy to get lost in the laundry list of things we deal with, the person you care for is dealing with a great deal also. They are likely dealing with loss of bodily function, depression, loss of mental capacity, and grief. Put yourself in her shoes as often as possible to maintain a strong sense of empathy.

2.    Consistency

When someone needs a caregiver, it’s usually because their life depends on the care. If you show up late or skip days, this could mean the difference between life and death. This isn’t something to take lightly. Be punctual, dependable and consistent with your care.

3.    Unwavering patience

It’s never really okay to take your problems out on someone else, but when you’re a caregiver, it’s really unacceptable. This means that you have to maintain your patience even when you’re having a rough day. Stress-management techniques can help you maintain your patience (and personal sanity). Try meditating on your breaks or starting a yoga routine in the morning. Breathing techniques can also help you calm down in the moment.

4.    Emotional stability

Let’s face the facts; when your patient or loved one has a bad day, so do you. You don’t like seeing anyone struggle, and you especially hate to see someone you’ve grown close to having a rough time. It’s heartbreaking. But one of our jobs as caregivers is to remain strong.

Your strength is one of the many gifts you’ll give your patient or loved one through this difficult time. As difficult as things may get, you must do your best to shield them from your grief. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should act heartless, but it’s better if you can keep an upbeat tone. Sadness begets sadness, and that’s not what we want for them or us. The best caregivers are emotionally strong.

5.    Flexibility

If you’ve been on this job for more than a week, you probably know the importance of being flexible. Schedules are important in caregiving, but it’s also important to roll with the punches. Your patient or loved one’s needs may change on a daily or hourly basis. It’s up to you to respond and help keep them safe and healthy.

6.    Perseverance

Caregiving is not an easy job. But you must remember that someone is counting on you. There may be times when walking away is the best for both of you, but this should never be the goal. You are signing up to help this person through the most difficult time of his or her life. If at all possible, stick with it until the end.

This may also mean facing unique challenges throughout each day. Your daily tasks may include things like bathing this person, dressing wounds and giving medication. And there are nuances to each task that cannot be ignored. For example, it’s up to you to keep an eye on this person’s prescription medications. This is especially important with addictive prescriptions because prescription pill addiction is a growing problem in the elderly.

When you commit to doing this job, you’re committing to handle every detail for the long haul. You know in your heart if you have what it takes to be an excellent caregiver. And even if you think you don’t, you might surprise yourself. Still, if you feel you’re falling short of these characteristics, it may be time to spend a few more moments nurturing yourself. After all, if you don’t take care of you, who will take care of them?

author bio: Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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How to Recognize the Warning Signs of Prescription Pill Abuse


Today we welcome back guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket!

Contrary to popular belief, drug abuse is not limited to the use of illicit substances. Majority of the time, it is a consequence of developing an addiction to prescription medication or painkillers – which initially, already possess highly addictive properties. The main scenario that sets the stage for addiction is when a doctor prescribes a medication to treat a patient’s ailment- such as a physical injury, chronic pain, inflammation, and even mental illness. While a patient intends only to use the prescribed medication to diminish their pain or discomfort, they can unexpectedly become dependent on the effects of the drug long after their original ailment heals. Therefore, this allows them to abuse the remaining medication and even gain access to more.

According to the studies of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it was estimated in 2014 that 26 million people globally abused prescription drugs, while the United States statistic is just over 2 million people. In 2017, both numbers continue to increase by the thousands.

To prevent this opioid epidemic from rising, we can take action by looking for the warning signs of prescription pill abuse in the loved ones in our lives.

These are the warning signs of prescription pill abuse:

  1. Fatigue

Fatigue causes one to experience severe bouts of exhaustion, lack of sleep, severe nausea, and general bodily discomfort. A person always seems to be restless or even suffers from intense migraines and muscle and joint paint. Overall, the constant abuse of drugs damages an individual’s immune system. Without its adequate protection, a person is prone to suffering sickness, diseases, and infections at a much higher and faster rate.

  1. Drastic changes in behavior or mood

Mood swings or uncharacteristic behaviors are triggered by a drug’s effect on altering brain chemistry and disrupting neurotransmitters. An individual can be completely ecstatic and cheerful one moment, and not even a minute later is suddenly lashing out violently in anger and rage. Effectively communicating with them becomes increasingly difficult and their unpredictable behavior is discerning to be around.

  1. Physical changes

Look for drastic weight changes, bloodshot eyes, and abnormal pupil sizes. Furthermore, you will notice sudden patches, bruises, or infections appearing on the skin without proper reason. Additionally, grooming habits and hygiene are obviously neglected. The person no longer cares about their physical appearance at this point.

  1. Isolation and Disinteress

Does your loved one seem to purposely avoid social interactions or neglect relationships? When in isolation, an individual addicted to drugs will separate themselves from the outside world in order to focus on the most important thing to them: getting their fix on more painkillers. In conjunction with socialization, an individual addicted to drugs will also abandon their hobbies and past interests as well. Eventually, everything and everyone in their life becomes worthless in exchange for the high they reach on drugs.

  1. Depression and Anxiety – and general mental illness, for that matter

Depression and anxiety can appear without warning or family history and even worsen a preexisting mental illness. While depression and anxiety are common side effects of certain drugs, the medications that have this pre-existing warning can encourage suicidal idealization and episodes of anxiety. Also, while drugs do not directly cause a mental illness, such as schizophrenia or mania to occur, they have the ability to increase an individual’s likelihood to develop them.

  1. Impairment of cognitive functioning

You will notice a lack of normal cognitive functioning in someone when their speech begins to slur, they lose concentration easily, and their memory seems to deteriorate. It becomes a challenge to hold a conversation or rely on them to perform a basic action. Along with that, a person may shift in and out of reality and become disassociated from the world and people around them.

  1. Suicidal or homicidal tendencies

In extreme case scenarios, a drug addiction to prescription pills can cause someone to be suicidal or homicidal, or a combination of the two. According to a study in 2015 from the University of Eastern Finland, researchers found a frightening connection between the abuse of prescription drugs and homicide. When under the influence of copious amounts of sedatives, an individual is 45% more likely to commit a homicide or similarly violent crime. The most concerning fact was that abusing over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, showed a staggering 206% increase in homicidal rates.

If you know anyone who is on the verge of suffering a drug addiction, know that that there is always hope for them. Numerous organizations and rehabilitation programs are located in each state and will assist your loved one on the road to recovery and sobriety. Despite the staggeringly high statistics of individuals who abuse drugs both nationally and globally, each person has the ability to overcome their addiction and take their lives back. We can help them take the first step in that journey.

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.  Trevor can be reached at: trevorc.mcdonald@gmail.com

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Are You Enabling a Loved One? 


We welcome back  guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket

It’s never easy to watch someone you love struggle.

Naturally, you want to do everything in your power to make them feel better. You only have the best intentions.

But how can you know when your helpful attitude is crossing a line? It’s quite difficult because enablers usually don’t realize they are enabling.

Enabling always begins innocently enough, but it can develop into desperation.

Typical behaviors that loved ones enable

When someone mentions the term “enabling,” your mind probably goes straight to addiction. With addiction, enabling is extreme and can be quite dangerous. However, there are other ways we enable our loved ones without realizing.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re caring for a family member who is morbidly obese. She derives a great deal of happiness from food, so you pick up her favorite chocolate cake when she’s having a bad day. This is an example of enabling.

On a smaller scale, some parents enable their children to adopt bad habits. Let’s say, your child despises cleaning, so you never make him do it. You’re enabling him to become a lazy adult.

In every case, you have the best intentions. You don’t want to see your loved one unhappy or uncomfortable. Maybe you even want them to associate the happiness they get from negative behaviors with you. So you enable.

The problem with enabling behavior

In every case of enabling, you are encouraging damaging behavior. Enablers usually realize this fact, but they justify their actions in various ways.

  • “He would use drugs anyway; may as well do it in my house.”
  • “What harm could a little piece of cake do?”

Each excuse justifies the bad behavior and encourages the person to continue.

  • “Pot can’t be that bad or mom wouldn’t let me smoke in the house.”
  • “My caregiver encouraged cake yesterday. Why not today?”

It’s easy to enable. We’ve all been there at one point or another. But we should instead be encouraging our loved ones to make healthy, productive choices – especially when a behavioral problem is present.

How to stop enabling

Stopping enabling behavior isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’ve been enabling a loved one for some time, an abrupt end can seem like you’re being mean or uncaring – even thought this is the furthest thing from the truth.

People are afraid to change their behavior because they fear their loved one may push back. Or they could fear other consequences. If you’ve been picking up someone else’s mess (literally or figuratively), there will be some fallout when you stop.

Here are some tips to help make the transition smoother:

  • Talk openly about your plans – Instead of going “cold turkey” without explanation, talk to your loved one about how you plan to stop enabling, and how it’s for her own good. When she exhibits behavior that you previously enabled, remind her of your new role in her life.
  • Get support – Talk to someone you trust about what has been going on and how you’ve been enabling. This should be someone you can talk to when you’re feeling weak. This person may also help you identify situations where you are enabling without realizing.
  • Get other adults on board – If you and your spouse or another family member have been enabling together, it’s important to get on the same page about stopping the enabling behavior.
  • Let your loved one experience consequences – This is the most difficult part of the process because it can be painful for you and your loved one. However, if someone repeatedly gets into trouble knowing you’re going to bail them out, you must step back and let law enforcement do their job. We do this with the hope that our loved ones will finally learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

Enabling is a difficult and painful behavior to stop, but it is for the good of yourself and your loved one.

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
 

 

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