Tag Archives: Aging

4 Signs You Need a Break From Caregiving

4 Signs You Need a Break From Caregiving

caregiving and self-careAccording to Cancer.org a caregiver serves a home health aide and companion to elderly individuals or those those dealing with chronic illness. Duties may include feeding, dressing and bathing patients, as well as arranges schedule, managing insurance issues and providing transportation.  The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP notes that, “65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. populationproviding care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged.”  A caregiver can always use a break: You need both short moments to yourself during the day and bigger breathing spaces that last a whole 24 hours or more. Unfortunately, breaks are not always easy to arrange or achieve. So many caregivers simply keep plowing forward without making themselves much of a priority. Result: big-time burnout.

How can you tell when you really, truly need to arrange help and make more time for yourself? Consider these four warning signs:

1. All you ever talk about or think about is caregiving.

Compassion fatigue is a very real condition to which caregivers are vulnerable. (Professional nurses and social workers get it, too.) Your caring is critical — but because you’re an individual, it’s not the entirety of your life even when it takes up most of the hours in a given day. It’s important for your sanity, and to maintain other important relationships and responsibilities, that you keep your life outside of caregiving moving forward.

Talking to friends and family about their lives and interests is one way to do this. So is spending time on non-caregiving activities, like things you used to enjoy doing. Even if you do them in lesser amounts, do them.

2. You rely on booze or cigarettes to make it through the day.

Substance overuse is a red flag for stress. Sometimes caregivers use substances like alcohol, cigarettes, or illicit drugs as crutches to get them through the long and stressful stretches of the day. Excessive use of caffeinated coffee or power drinks can fall into this category, too. So can mindlessly overeating sweet or salty snack foods that provide empty calories.

Instead of relying on substances to prop you up in a hard situation, it’s healthier to get yourself out of the situation in order to recharge.

3. You can’t fall asleep — and then dread waking up.

Sleep disturbances are a reliable signal of overwhelm. You may be unable to sleep because you’re so wound up, or because your loved one with dementia or another issue keeps awakening and therefore keeps you up. Either way, you don’t get the seven to nine hours you need to feel refreshed and refueled for the long haul. By morning, you may have a sense of not wanting to get out of bed because you’re too tired or not looking forward to what’s ahead.

Resolving sleep issues is key for every caregiver. Arranging respite help is one way you can cut down the stress that feeds many sleep problems.

4. You can’t remember the last time you felt happy or a sense of pleasure.

To be sure, nursing a loved one through a health condition like dementia or stroke recovery isn’t jolly business. But persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness are a warning sign of depression. If you can’t find pleasure in even small ways (the feeling of a walk outdoors, a grandchild’s smile, a good book, a cup of coffee with a friend), you may be suffering from the effects of caregiver burnout — and may be at risk for depression. Weaving more off-duty time into your day and getting support from others can help.

There is such a thing as caring “too much”.

About the Author

Paula Spencer Scott is a senior editor at Caring.com, the leading online destination for caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. Paula is a 2011 MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow and writes extensively about health and caregiving.

Exercise is Power | Improvement in Cognitive Ability in Aging

New study shows,  “resistance training can indeed improve both your cognitive performance and your brain function. What is key is that the training will improve two processes that are highly sensitive to the effects of aging and neurodegeneration — executive function and associative memory — functions which are often impaired in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.” according to Teresa Liu-Ambrose, principal investigator with the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility and the Brain Research Centre at VCH and UBC.

Learn more at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423162403.htm Read more…

Please Write to Me | Dear Anna Olson

“I noticed something caught up in the branches of a tree in the woods near my home. It was a balloon and tied to it was a note that simply read…”

–Dean Kalman Lennert
Director/Animator, Dear Anna Olson

These four simple words are an invitation to the reader to work past their complacency and reach out to an individual in need.

A wonderful treatise on the isolation of aging and how simple actions can make a big difference. The film is being completed and the filmmaker is seeking support to fund post-production and distribution efforts atwww.dearannaolson.com. Read more…

The Secret About Your Parents | Alzheimer’s in the First Person | Barbara Taylor Vaughan

OK buddies, I want to talk about something. Alot of you nice people that read my stories are youngsters, 40 to 60 year olds. Alot of your parents are still alive and may either live in your city or away. I want to tell you all a secret. When you talk to your parents on the phone and say, “Hi mom (or dad), how are you?” And they always answer, “Fine, just fine.” When you say to them, “Are you keeping busy, getting out doing things?” And they answer, “Oh yes, I have plenty to keep me busy.” When you ask them, “Are you lonely? And they answer, “Oh no, I have friends, I’m fine.” When you say to them, “I wish we could visit but we are just so busy,” and they answer, “Oh I know, don’t worry about me, you have your life. Don’t worry about me.” I want to tell you a secret: Your parents are not telling you the whole truth. Read more…