You’re doing so much, but somehow, it’s not enough. It’s never enough. At least in your own eyes. And frankly, you resent having to do it all, and STILL feeling like it’s not enough. This is what guilt feels like. Yes, what you FEEL and what you intellectually know you SHOULD feel may be two different things, but that doesn’t help, at least not if it’s just you trying to talk yourself down off the guilty ledge. Like a good friend, award-winning OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters holds your hand and helps to talk you down. A book on caregiving may not be what you imagine to be a gift to yourself for the holidays, but trust me, you’ll be glad you read it. We know, because we’re heard from scores of people who have resisted it, then finally picked it up out of sheer desperation, and with a big sigh of relief, found what they needed inside. And, it’s easily packable. Shove it inside your pocket, purse or briefcase, and haul it out when you need a bucking-up.
Meanwhile, Caregiver.com offers a trenchant list of ways to assuage (and maybe expunge) your personal caregiver guilt, often born of resentment at the time, energy and attention it may take away from what you think you deserve to enjoy on this Hallmark-card-induced holiday.
Anyone who has dealt with caregiving, whether a professional, as with Sue Collins, RN, co-author of the award-winning book, OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing, $16) or a non-professional, has most likely experienced some kind of disagreement about the best way to go about it. Siblings, who nearly always also carry around a collection of well-worn emotional baggage, are particularly vulnerable to (and adept at) disagreements over caring for an aging parent, for example. Finances often play a part as do the imagined wishes of the parent (which is why it is so important to get the paperwork in order while everyone is still firing on all cylinders), and finally, who’s in charge. Add the stress of the holidays and you have a recipe for a family brawl.
For an accessible, common-sense solutions to these kinds of caregiving challenges wrapped up in a convenient form that you can gift to recalcitrant siblings, get the book: OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters. amazon.com
If you live a distance from your loved one and rarely actually see their living space, the holidays are a good opportunity to check up on them. Or, if you see them often, and have grown inured to the very gradual decline, now’s a good time to take a careful look around. There are clues to how well they are doing — are there dishes piled in the sink where there used to be none? (Or where they were at least washed and stacked in the drainboard?) Is the laundry piling up? Is there more clutter, which can make getting around the house unnecessarily hazardous (especially if balance is becoming an issue)? Is there incremental creep toward their doing little or nothing? All are clues to your loved one’s wellbeing and their ability to care for themselves. They may also be clues to their state of mind — depression can look like slovenliness. Either way, visiting during the holidays is an opportunity to note the clues your loved one may be inadvertently leaving to their ability to care for themselves and to their state of mind. Snooping lovingly will let you know. Read more:
When I read that reading helps stave off loneliness in the newsletter for Today’s Caregiver, I was thrilled — partly because I love to read and partly because I’m a writer and publisher. Reading, according to Emily Dickinson, who knew something about spending a lot of time on her own, is like a frigate that ‘takes us worlds away.’ Books (paper, hardcover, electronic in which you can enlarge the print if need be) let us travel even if we can’t get out of the house, or the armchair, or the bed. It takes our minds to different places, lets us vicariously experience other lives, and keeps those ol’ synapses firing in ways that keep what could be a shut-in life an intellectually opened mind.
Sue’s and my book, OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters (Head to Wind Publishing) is not like a novel, but it does have in it, along with the kind of practical, experience-based advice and tips that non-professional caregivers can use every day (and many desperately need), the stories of other caregivers and caregiving situations. Encouraging, sometimes poignant, sometimes enlightening stories. We all live on stories, whether they are the ones we tell ourselves about our own life, or those we listen to and learn from. Stories matter in all walks of life. Read more from Caregiver.com through the link below.
We all have the guilt producing shoulda/coulda’s from time to time, but caregivers usually have the coulda/shoulda’s on a nearly daily basis. Yet as caregivers we often forget that we too have legitimate and important needs.That fact is only really apparent when our own health suffers in the course of caregiving. Even then, sometimes, we still feel guilt over not giving our ALL! If stress is too great and especially if our own health is suffering, we need to step back, take a more realistic view of what we have been doing and call in the reserves to help — and to make changes, even if they’re difficult. The article ( link below) on caregiver guilt in Today’s Caregiver, which awarded the 2016 Friendly Caregiver Award to our book, OK Now What? A Caregiver’s Guide to What Matters, illustrates the point, and reiterates our suggestions for beating the guilt trip we often reserve for ourselves..
When my father, who had a brain tumor and who was fiercely independent, slowly grew to be unreliable in the handling of his bills, etc., I worried about trying to strong-arm him into letting go of their management. A friend said to me, in a reference to the biblical ‘Honor the father and thy mother,’ etc.: “You ARE honoring him by taking care of things, even if he doesn’t understand that at this point. It helped a lot. And, he allowed me to do that after a little negotiation, which relieved us both.
For the adult children of a parent with Alzheimer’s who needs in-home care, there are tricks to it. Gary Barg, Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Caregiver magazine, offers a great example of how to help a loved one who has been highly functioning but who now needs help, accept that help. How you characterize it matters!
People who are not in a caregiving situation, especially those who have never (or more likely not yet) experienced it, want to be sympathetic, want to help. But while you can accept their sympathy, even their help, there is nothing like talking with, being with, and sharing stories and tips with those who are currently in the same boat. Those people who are actively caregiving. Their situations may be slightly different from yours — their loved one has terminal cancer; yours is dealing with advanced Parkinsons disease, for example, or yours has Alzheimer’s while theirs has vascular dementia — they are in the trenches along with you. Seeking out those in similar current situations lets you know in a way that nothing else does: You are not alone!
The article (link below) details how caregivers can help support each other.