Caregivers Need Stress Relief

Caregiving is perceived by non-caregivers as thoughtless work requiring no effort or participation. Caregivers stay home, give medication reminders, and complete common domestic tasks while enjoying their favorite afternoon soap opera, right? Wrong! Caring for the frail, ailing, and disabled is a grueling task repeated daily with limited sleep. Monotonous labor intensive schedules cause physical and emotional stress. Constantly answering demands of care-recipients leaves no time for self-care. Balancing work schedules and doctors’ appointments is almost impossible. Worrying about the welfare of a loved-one and having no one to discuss the possible devastating outcome leaves a mind heavy and drained of hope. No one cares about a caregiver’s anguish and suffering. Their health is no concern as long as non-caregivers can continue their uninterrupted lives.  

Caregivers need adequate stress relief and dependable support systems in order to perform daily functions effectively. Depression, mental breakdowns, and aggression are all results of an overworked caregiver. Endless days and long nights allow no sleep. Caregiving duties are continuous and rarely end at a specific time. There’s no TGIF or end-of-day routine. Weekdays and weekends blend together.   

When are caregivers given the opportunity to de-stress and rest? A break is a rare instance when a family member volunteers to watch the care-recipient for a few hours and the caregiver sneaks away for a little alone time. These few hours are usually spent worrying or wondering what other daily tasks need to be completed. Sadly, caregivers often don’t receive relief from their hectic schedules. Care continues until the care-recipient is satisfied or has fallen asleep. Completion may take minutes, hours, or an entire day.

Caregivers providing in-home care for loved-ones don’t have consistent work schedules and are unable to make “after work” plans. They live and sleep in their workplace. Relentless hours and limited sleep will break even the strongest person. Caregivers are expected to carry on with a smile without inconveniencing onlookers. Their crying episodes, social isolation, and anger outbursts are considered ridiculous. How can staying at home caring for one person be so stressful? You need to get yourself together! Oh you would rather put him/her in a nursing home? How can you be depressed? You’re overreacting! These are questions and statements expressed by family and friends to stressed caregivers.  

Caregivers understand the demands and struggles of caregiving. These forgotten heroes need stress relief in order to maintain sanity and provide consistent quality care. A simple telephone call from a friend or relative allowing a caregiver vent time is sometimes all that’s needed. Refusing and ignoring their requests for help is narrow-minded and selfish. Without stress relief, caregivers cannot adequately care for patients. Lack of focus and physical exhaustion hinder completion of daily tasks. Denying help results in emotional breakdowns. Constant worry of grim medical outcomes causes depression and anxiety. These conditions are treated with an anti-anxiety medication prescription. The caregiver has now become the care-recipient. Caregivers’ anxieties, depressions, and stress are preventable by volunteering time and offering respite care. Thank you for reading. Take care and please share! 

Non-Caregivers Don’t Realize….

Caregiving is a selfless act defining personality and morality. Only those who have walked this path can truly understand the struggles. Third-party observers try to empathize, but are unaware of the daily stress endured by the caregiver. Non-caregivers don’t realize….

1.) ….their “care for yourself” advice is falling on deaf ears. Self-care is important and caregivers should have the opportunity to rest and de-stress. However, the daily demands of caregiving can cause physical and emotional exhaustion. We’re aware of self-care’s significance, but are too tired and preoccupied to practice it.

2.) ….caregiving is not just healthcare. Financial obligations, domestic errands, meal preparation, advanced planning for family gatherings/outings, maintaining a safe home environment, and endless paperwork are daily caregiver responsibilities.

3.) ….our smiles are disguising a feeling of constant worry. Self-doubt and uncertainty adds to the overwhelming character of caregiving. Questioning judgement becomes part of our daily routine. Sleep provides little relief from anxiety and tension. The mind is unable to fully rest and is overflowing with what-if’s and did-I’s.

4.) ….the social isolation endured by caregivers. Devotion to the well-being of another involves love and sacrifice. Caregiving is demanding and allows limited time for socialization. Doctors, nurses, care-recipients, and an occasional visit from friends and family is sometimes the only “outside” contact for caregivers.

5.) ….caregiving’s financial burden. The amount of care required and long-term care funds, dictate frequentness of responsibilities. Care-recipients needing 24-hour care and lacking significant healthcare funds need unemployed caregivers with open availabilities. Those providing care are forced to live on one income in a “two” income society. Many receive no compensation for their caregiving duties and survive on the care-recipient’s limited income.

6.) ….the strain caregiving puts on marriage. Arguments manifest from lack of socialization and financial instability. Frustration incurred from caregiving is released at the expense of the spouse. Conversations about NON-caregiving activities are inexistent. A caregiver’s marriage revolves around the care-recipient.

Non-caregivers, help by volunteering your time and patience. Listen and allow us to vent. We’re aware of caregiving’s difficulties and need not be reminded of its hectic reality. Offer support through respite care and socialization. Thank you for reading! Take care!

Caregiver Fitness

Caregiving is physically and emotionally demanding. Balancing daily stress and quality care is overwhelming and time consuming. Constant devotion to a loved-one leaves limited time for self-care. Demanding daily routines cause tiredness and exhaustion. Limited time, lack of energy, and hectic schedules are deterrents of exercise. How can you stay physically fit while caregiving? Try this 20-minute in-home workout performed with NO EQUIPMENT.

The listed exercises should be performed as a circuit….do one set of each exercise allowing limited rest-time between exercises. 

Repeat the circuit 3-4 times, resting 2 minutes between each circuit.

  1. SQUAT 20 reps
  2. PUSH-UP (Standard or Incline)20 reps
  3. CRUNCH20 reps
  4. ALTERNATING LUNGE20 reps
  5. TRICEPS DIP20 reps
  6. BICYCLE CRUNCH20 reps

Exercise promotes physical fitness and reduces stress. Allow yourself time to de-stress and recharge. Incorporate a workout routine into your schedule and enjoy the benefits. Don’t have 20 minutes? The workout is too intense? Modify and divide the routine into two 10-minute workouts. Stay healthy and provide your loved-one with deserved quality care. Thank you for reading. Take care!!

Mid-Week Motivation for the Caregiver….Quote #2

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” — Tia Walker, author


Caregiving in a Rural Setting

Living in “Rural America” is gratifying.  The sounds of clattering suburbia are replaced by serene quietness.  Days and nights are peaceful, absent of commotion and traffic.  The view of the moon and stars isn’t obstructed by city smog.  People and nature are at peace with the environment.  I’ve lived in a rural setting my entire life and LOVE it!  Whippoorwills, white-tailed deer, locust, blueberry fields, and cranberry bogs are daily sights and sounds of my “Rural America”.  But, with peacefulness comes seclusion.  I currently live 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store, 40 minutes from my physician, 40 minutes from the nearest shopping mall, and 25 minutes from the “local” Chinese restaurant.  For some this is mindboggling, but for me it’s life.  I never realized the inconveniences of living rurally until my grandmother fell ill and needed healthcare support.  Those inconveniences were immediately magnified.  I’ve stressed the importance of utilizing resources available to caregivers and care-recipients.  However, most of those resources are not available to individuals receiving homecare in a rural setting. 

1.)  Transportation Services

Small towns in “Rural America” compared to urban and suburban communities lack funds to provide necessary transportation services to caregivers and care-recipients.  Residents living in exurban communities are limited in their independence and abilities to complete daily errands.

2.)  Adult Daycare Centers

Limited monetary resources and poor infrastructure both contribute to unavailable homecare resources.  We can’t compete with the wealth of populated cities.  Therefore, healthcare relief facilities are absent in rural communities.  And, without transportation services, caregivers and care-recipients can’t be transported to neighboring facilities. 

3.)  Home Healthcare Agencies  

Remote locations hinder the process of hiring dependable home healthcare agencies.  Nurses and aides are reluctant to travel to these locations because of travel time and distance.  

4.)  Respite Care

We realize the importance of respite care during caregiving, but a short-term break is not always readily available, especially in a rural setting.  The inability to find home healthcare agencies willing to travel to your location narrows your options when trying to obtain respite care.  Without agencies, your main source of relief care is dependable family and friends.  But, most families live at great distances from the caregiver and care-recipient.  Friends and neighbors work or are raising families.  Daily/weekly respite care may not be an option.     

If living in “Rural America” is inconvenient for the aging population, why don’t they relocate to an area better equipped for their needs?  The elderly in rural communities have limited incomes and live at or near poverty level.  Most live alone and have health concerns.  How can they relocate?  Why should they be disadvantaged by their living location? 

I was an informal caregiver for 11 years in a rural setting.  Getting good, quality care for your loved-one is nearly impossible.  Caregivers are required to perform many heath-related procedures beyond their training because healthcare agencies are not willing to travel 40 miles.  How do you transport a bed-bound patient to a doctor’s office 35 miles away with no medical transportation services?  How can you provide the proper care to a loved-one when skilled nurses are unwilling to travel to your location?  Caregiving is difficult, but lack of proper resources makes it more stressful and overwhelming.  Respite care?  Yeah right!  That’s a luxury provided by a family member every couple months.

Caregivers and care-recipients living in rural communities deserve more resources.  Location shouldn’t hinder the quality of care received by a loved-one.  Do you live in “Rural America”?  How can homecare resources be improved?  Leave a comment!  Thank you!         

    

Caregivers, try to utilize your resources!

I’ve detailed the struggles of caregiving, but haven’t emphasized the resources available to caregivers and patients.  We’re aware of the emotional and financial struggles of caregiving, but what resources can help a caregiver create balance in their seemingly unpredictable, erratic environment?

1.)  Government Programs

Caregiving can be financially draining for both the caregiver and patient.  Homecare costs are expensive!  Seek financial assistance through government programs such as Medicaid.  Some states offer waiver programs to assist with caregiving costs.  Counties have departments dedicated to the aging or disabled.  Many seniors are eligible for a “tax freeze” on their property taxes.  Can you receive compensation for providing caregiving services?  Take advantage of ALL government funded programs.  You and your loved-one are entitled to those benefits.  Not sure what you qualify for?  Visit BenefitsCheckUp and determine your eligibility for offered benefits. 

2.)  Veteran’s Benefits

Is the care-recipient a veteran or spouse of a veteran?  He/she could be receiving aid for homecare from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Veterans or their spouses could be entitled to annual property tax deductions.  Local governments may offer adult daycare for our American heroes.  They served our country, let our country help them!

3.)  Homecare Services

Finding and hiring a reputable homecare agency is challenging and expensive.  The amount of paperwork can deter the most organized person.  When searching for dependable homecare services, research independent caregivers.  Many retired registered nurses offer paid caregiving services.  Care.com allows you to locate local caregivers and read summaries of their qualifications, availabilities, and services.  

4.)  Meal Preparation

Caring for a loved-one involves A LOT of meal preparation.  Planning daily meals is time consuming, especially if the patient has specific dietary needs.  Research available meal programs by contacting your local municipality.  Meals on Wheels America is one organization offering delivered meals to housebound seniors.

5.)  Technology

Integrating technology into homecare is beneficial for both the caregiver and patient.  If your loved-one doesn’t require 24-hour care and can live somewhat independently, an in-home monitoring system may be appropriate for your caregiving situation.  Observe their routine via cell phone, tablet, or computer while you’re home, working, or running errands.

6.)  Support

Instating a dependable support system is vital when caregiving.  It decreases stress and helps eliminate caregiver burnout.  Delegate daily tasks to willing family members and friends.  If help is offered, TAKE ITFeeling stressed and need to vent?  Join an online caregiver support group.  Chat with and express your concerns to other caregivers.  Knowing you’re not alone during your journey is calming.  Support groups provide a platform for asking questions and receiving insightful responses to caregiving questions. 

Sometimes you choose to be a caregiver and sometimes caregiving chooses you.  Whatever your unique circumstance, know you’re not alone.  Provide you and your loved-one with deserved help by utilizing offered resources.  Please share!  Thank you and take care!