+1(484) 883-7247 diane@dianecatrambone.com

image of a caregiver and seniorNovember is National Caregiver Month, so this post is a reflection about caregivers.

So, who takes care of the caregiver?  Well, like lots of other stuff in your life right now, if you are a caregiver, the answer to that question is probably no one.

It’s not so easy to take care of yourself when you feel the added pressure of being a caregiver; whether it’s for a child with special needs, or an aging parent or a partner who has become disabled or whatever situation life will throw our way.

Maybe it’s been happening over a period of time. With my mom, I’m noticing changes that have been pretty easy to ignore (or deny), but lately they are more obvious. Pills from the pill box aren’t being taken, she needs constant reminding if she has an appointment to get to, and just yesterday, she forgot my birthday.

And still…it’s difficult for my brother and I to admit that she needs help, most likely on a continual basis. Luckily for her and us, she lives in an environment meant to help seniors go from independent living to assisted living. However, making that decision to ‘move her over’, is not going to be easy to make and she is not going to take it well, I guarantee.  So we ponder and come up with excuses for her and put off making that decision.

We are realizing that we are kind of living in two universes. One where we continue to live our lives and be involved in our kids lives and Mom is always there. The other…constantly worrying, keeping track of her life as well as ours and letting stress build over time. What to do?

I still say what I’ve always said… You’ve got to take care of yourself first. What good will I be to my mom if I’m sick or just too tired to be there for her? Nothing good will come of me letting myself go.

And I don’t consider myself a full time caregiver. Far from it. She has a community to help with the day to day stuff. She has my brother who lives much closer to her that, God bless him, has taken the brunt of her weekly care. So we are lucky, as I said. Still, I wanted to come up with some ideas for those of you who are really feeling the burden of juggling your real life with being a caregiver. I hope they help in some way.

Take care of your physical self.
The last thing you want to do when you’re stressed and tired is move. But, you’ve got to. As much as you are able. Even if it’s walking to the mailbox to breathe some fresh air. Please don’t fall into the trap of “If I don’t do it for 3 days per week, it won’t do me any good.” That’s horse crap. Do what you can, just do something. And don’t think of it as a chore. Think of it as a place of peace for yourself, even if it’s 5 minutes. Of course, more is better for staying physical fit, but that’s another story!

Take Care of Your Mental Self
Focus on some relaxation time. Maybe 5 minutes in the morning before your day gets started. Maybe 5 minutes before you go to bed at night. Maybe both. Simple deep breathing – 5 seconds in/5 seconds out will allow your body to recharge and renew.  Given time (or a good friend to take over for a bit) a massage or spa treatment can make all the difference in the world to your outlook for the day.

Take Care of your Spiritual Self
Maybe during this time, you are questioning your belief system. Life seems unfair, you feel unworthy, your old belief systems are not carrying you through this crisis. That’s okay by me. I actually think questioning your beliefs is a healthy exercise. If you question, and you come to the conclusion that your belief system gives you comfort and peace, cool! Use it…

And if it’s time to look for a new one or look within….that’s cool too!

Take care of your Community Self.
There are various groups around dedicated to specific caregiver needs. Some are devoted to a particular illness such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s . Others are more generic and can be of general support and information. People who attend these groups, which usually meet once a month, are a wealth of information on taking care of your loved one…and yourself. Just google what you seek and it will be shown to you.

Hire a Professional Coach

Plug 😉 Shame on me…
But seriously, sometimes friends and family just get tired of listening to you. And that’s what a coach does best. Listens without judgment and helps you be accountable to the life you deserve to live. We help you focus on what’s working in your life and how to make small changes to a positive end.

Delegate your Life
Trust me, you don’t have to do it all yourself. It’s probably not getting done correctly anyway. So..

Do it or Dump it or Defer it or Delegate it. 4-D Decision Making Model from Coach University.

Blessing to all the caregivers of the world. We are each of us caring for others in some way. When we open our hearts to accepting help from others, I believe it helps the journey onward. Be kind to yourself…..