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Posted: January 24, 2005

Practical Caregiving

Looking Back on Caregiving Victories

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The world may think you are only one person ?
But to one person, you may be their world.

Author Unknown

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This quote is the perfect description of a family. I have searched the Internet, but I can?t find the author. If you know the author, please let me know who it is.

Writing this column has made this past year exhilarating for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed answering questions and researching the topics for my readers. All along, I?ve kept thinking that when I was taking care of my parents, I wish I would have known what I do now and what I?m trying to share with you.

Thank you so much for wanting to take care of your loved ones to the best of your ability. You are making some of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. These are sacrifices, really. But the more you know and understand about their care and about your role as a caregiver, the better your decisions will be. Please continue to email me your questions, suggestions and other input. I do appreciate it when you let me know how things are going.

I?ve reviewed the past year and decided to share some of the outcomes caregivers have experienced after receiving help. These caregivers didn?t want their names used, so I am honoring their request. Their situations are not unusual.

Reaching for Outside Help

A compassionate, younger caregiver (under 50 years old) was trying to care for her mother and needed financial guidance and assistance as well as physical help. She was trying to take care of her mother a few days a week and arrange for someone else to be there the rest of the week. She was becoming very stressed.

I suggested that she call the U.S. Administration on Aging at 1-800-677-1116. They referred her to the office in her area (which is what they are supposed to do when you call the national number). But she didn?t just call and ask if they could help her take care of her parents. Instead, she asked questions. Yes, she did ask if they could help her take care of her mother, but also if they knew how she could get other help. She explained that she needed help with accounting and other functions that she and her parents needed.

You can call the Administration on Aging Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern), or visit their website. It is important to explain your situation as thoroughly as possible and ask if they know of other places you can call for the help you need.

Caregiving Stress and the Marriage

Another nice lady was highly stressed and upset when she contacted me. She wanted to take care of her mother but her mother had become very demanding and complained that nothing her daughter did was right. This caregiver was married and didn?t work at a paid job, but felt she was neglecting her husband to meet the demands of her mother.

We ?talked? through emails about how much she needed a break, even getting someone to come in so she could go on a ?date? with her husband once a week. She also needed to stop letting her mother control everything she did. Simply put, she needed to take control of the situation. We ?talked? about how she could do that and also how to interact with her mother by doing things with her mother that they both enjoyed. Since her mother couldn?t do much for herself physically, they needed to do things like watch movies together, listen to music together, go through pictures stored in a box and organize them together, and other similar things.

After her mother stopped complaining about her spending time with her husband, friends were able to start visiting her mother. Everyone is much happier.

Overwhelmed and Contemplating Suicide

Another loving daughter was overwhelmed with taking care of her father. She felt like she was ready to commit suicide. But before she followed through, she said she wanted to take care of him until he died.

While I ?talked? to her through emails, I contacted a suicide hotline. They were able to guide me, and we were able to convince this caregiving daughter to get counseling as well as help for her in taking care of her father.

Things have turned around for her, and she is now living a more reasonable and rewarding life while making it possible for her father to be well taken care of. She finally came to the realization that she didn?t have to take care of her father herself. Her responsibility was to make sure he was taken care of. He is now in a nursing home and she is leading a more fulfilling life.

Again, thank you for taking care of your loved ones. Please remember that you are only human. Don?t punish yourself for your caregiving pitfalls because it is impossible to know everything or do everything. Don?t try to do so much that your health suffers ? physically or mentally. You want to be around to take care of your loved one, not in the hospital yourself.

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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