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!   

Why do I feel guilty….caregiver guilt?

You became a caregiver to give your loved-one unconditional love, support, and quality care within the comforts of home.  Your daily devotion enables them to live a more meaningful, joyful life.  You absorb ALL of the stress from the current complex situation.  The mental and physical exhaustion is depleting your own health, but you still smile.  Socializing is limited, but isolation is in surplus.  Why do caregivers expose themselves to such a stressful, unpredictable environment?  We care about the welfare of others and believe our participation in their lives will create nurturing relationships.  We give hope to an otherwise hopeless situation.  Providing an ailing loved-one with a fulfilled life is rewarding, but do we care too much?  Is there such a thing as caring too much?

We caregivers have very nurturing, caring, independent mentalities.  These mind-sets wreak havoc on our health and create unsatisfactory care environments.  Caregiving is mentally and physically draining. Most of us have suffered from caregiver stress and burnout.  It’s an emotional roller-coaster!  What emotions surface while caregiving?  Anger, sorrow, happiness, love, fear, and surprise are just a few emotions encountered by caregivers. The most mentally exhausting emotion during my caregiving journey was guilt.  I was devoting my life to the happiness and well-being of a loved-one.  Why did I feel guilty?

After her second stroke, my grandmother received all nutrition and hydration through a feeding tube.  She couldn’t eat or drink by mouth, only via peg-tube.  How could I possibly eat anything in front of this wonderful lady?  I felt guilty eating because she wasn’t able to indulge in the foods she once found so delicious.  I ate many meals at the kitchen counter, in a location not visible to her baby blue eyes.

My grandmother was left bed-bound after suffering two strokes between the ages of 73-78.  She was unable to eat, stand, or complete any daily tasks. She was completely dependent on me….for EVERYTHING.  This once independent woman was now dependent on an 18 year old!  The irony, in previous years I was her dependent!  Again, guilt surfaces and shows its ugly face.  My mind is overwhelmed with WHY, WHY, WHY?

  • Why did this healthy woman have multiple strokes? 
  • Why is this master of culinary arts unable to eat the food she loves?
  • Why did this kind, sweet, and giving lady get such a “raw deal” in life?

I felt guilty because I was healthy.

Heart failure ended my grandmother’s life.  As a caregiver for an elderly loved-one, I knew my responsibilities would end, but not exactly when or how.  It’s frightening trying to be prepared for the unexpected.  When she passed I was overwhelmed with guilt. Again, my mind was flooded with questions. 

  • What did I do wrong?  She was fine last night when I put her into bed.
  • Could I have prevented this?
  • Maybe I should have done this instead of that?
  • Did I overlook some detail that caused this?
  • Did my grandmom die because of something I did or missed?

Caregiver guilt exists during and after caregiving.  Because of faithful devotion to helping others, we caregivers create an unhealthy emotional environment for ourselves.  We can’t accept certain terms and outcomes.  Our mind is geared for success not failure.  Please share this post to prepare other caregivers for their emotional but rewarding journey.  Thank you and good luck!