Being a caregiver for a loved on with any chronic disease process, especially a cognitive impairment is a full time job, filled with a roller coaster of emotions, prolonged stress, and usually all without a break. I am always encouraging my caregivers to explore solutions for taking time out for themselves. This is always possible and can be achieved with planning and support! A recent Washington Post article speaks of a woman who was caring for a loved one and took her own life due to the stress of the situation. I see many caregivers commit passive suicide as they will not take break, become detached from life and socialization, only focusing on their loved one, which results in a major health issue, this resulting in their demise. The statistics for caregivers pre-deceasing the loved ones they care for is very high! This a a serious problem that is not getting better! So what can we do to break this cycle???
If you see a loved one falling into this pattern help them! Do not offer broad, non concrete offers of assistance! Be specific such as,
"you need and deserve a break and every Friday I am on duty and will ensure that no matter what happens you have from 12- 6 to focus on you and rest!"
Many times caregivers become depressed and overwhelmed as they see no end to the cycle! It is overwhelming to realize that there is no set time for rest or time away in the future! Give that friend or family member an out, a way to take time to find a way to get centered, balanced, and re focused!
Help them to find compassion for themselves!
I find that many of us show compassion and caring towards others easily, however often times we do not show ourselves the same courtesy. Caregivers are frequently plagued with guilt, regret, and frustration no matter how hard they try. They often second guess their choices and assigned the blame to themselves for any issues that arise. Sometimes they also lash out at others and embrace anger rather than dealing with issues in a constructive way which causes more isolation and depression.
Help yourself or your loved one by providing time to attend a support group or individual counseling. Caregivers need to time to express their emotions and find perspective. Acknowledging their feelings and realizing the realities of all they do will help them to move forward in a positive way, hopefully, still finding moments of joy and happiness along the way!
If you need assistance with caregiver support and coping, please feel free to contact me through the contacts tab! Sometimes it takes a medical professional to point out the obvious and prompt a truly positive change!