A Prescription For
sane and healthy
as you embark upon
an amazing journey!
I feel so grateful now to have had the honor of
caregiving. I learned so much about myself, about
life, about death. I see how it all comes together. I
learned what is really truly important. I look back now
and I see that it was a gift no one could have ever
described to me. In my darkest hours I found light.
Until now I never realized what I was truly capable of.
I had a wake-up call that I would not trade for
anything on earth. I never knew I could love so much.
O. Nicholas Raths
Mother passed away in 1998 with severe dementia.
Taking Care Yourself
Along the Way
Coping with feelings of guilt, frustration,
Coping with our loved ones feelings of
loneness, loss and frustration about their
Juggling work and caregiving.
Staying healthy and sane. Assessing your
Dealing with family dynamics.
Finding help and learning to accept help
The Emotional Melting
Ways to Cope with feeling of
Guilt and Resentment.
Talk about it.
Find help in a support group.
Set and maintain healthy boundaries.
Review the five unrealistic expectations.
Shore up your support systems.
Ask for help and accept help.
Do something kind for yourself each day.
Equations for Success
Unrealistic Expectations + Fear
Healthy Boundaries + Love
Coping with a loved ones
Realize that no one can compensate for the deaths
of lifelong friends or companions. We cannot take
away a parent’s loneness and pain.
Caregivers often impose burdensome requirements
upon themselves in an attempt to remove the
Families best help their relatives cope with loneliness
by creating routines which do not burden their own
lives. It’s better for all concerned to do less for
someone and enjoy the time together than to give too
much and end up feeling guilty and resentful.
Burning the candle at both ends.
(Juggling full time employment with caregiving.)
Do you find yourself using your vacation
or sick time to care for your loved one?
When you are sick do you force
yourself to go to work rather than
taking vital rest?
Do you feel torn between advancing
your career or education and caring
for your loved one?
Learning to accept help
Bringing services into an older person’s
Using services outside the home.
Neighbors, friends and other helpers
Sharing the care.
Assessing the Needs of
How much rest are caregivers getting?
What personal sacrifices are caregivers making in order to serve the
Are caregivers neglecting their own health?
Is constant surveillance required as a part of care tasks?
Have caregivers turned to alcohol or drug abuse in their distress?
How drastically has the older person’s personality changed in response
Are caregivers receiving verbal or physical abuse from the person in
Is the primary caregiver overwhelmed by demands from several
dependent people at once?
Are financial constraints interfering with the caregiver’s ability to
follow medical advice?
Are problems from the family history resurfacing and contributing to
abuse or neglect?
Abuse of Caregivers by Ill People
Taking out aggressions and rage about loss
of control on the caregiver.
Abusive behavior that develops gradually.
Refusing hired help
Physical aggressiveness, hitting, scratching,
biting or verbal abuse.
Demanding help beyond the caregivers
Warning Signs of Stress and
Sleep disturbance: Feeling anxious or irritable. Unable to
stop worrying or ruminating.
Appetite changes: significant weight gain or loss.
Increased medication or alcohol usage: Overuse of
sleeping pills. painkillers. alcohol, or caffeine.
Mood changes: uncharacteristic short-temperedness,
crying, agitation; recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Physical Problems: decreased resistance to illness; delay
or neglect of vital physical needs; poor nutrition
Chronic fatigue: loss of energy; decreased motivation,
Rough handling: marked impatience when giving care;
hitting, pushing, or yelling when frustrated or angered;
neglecting vital care tasks.
When Siblings Share the Care.
Are worries about inheritance straining arrangements for
care? Are these strains unspoken or out in the open?
How geographically spread out are the siblings?
Is there a financial disparity between siblings?
What has been the nature of siblings’ adult relationships?
Does the family expect daughters to be caregivers in
preference to the sons? Do the women accept this role?
What are the other obligations pressuring each sibling? Do
some have young children or relatives for whom they are
already providing care?
When You Get the
Dreaded Call in the Night.
Take a moment to collect yourself.
Determine the nature of the situation. Is this a
Activate your support network.
Make a short term plan to deal with the situation.
Follow your instincts; “Do” what you “gotta do”.
Be ready to be flexible.
When things cool down call a family meeting.
When is the right time to
Conduct a family meeting to discuss
concerns and possible solutions.
Consult with a health professional.
Have your loved one evaluated.
Listen to your inner voice. Try to
understand your own reasons and
Self-Care as a Necessity
Learning to Accept Help.
Developing your Support Network.
Obtaining Fruitful Rest.
Seeing to your Emotional, Physical, Mental,
and Spiritual Wellbeing.
Heeding Physical Needs.
Setting Limits with Abusive Older People
Attending Support Groups