National Family Caregiver Month Day 10

getattachmentthumbnail There Might Be Dragons

Do the family members get along with each other or are there conflicts? Is there open and honest communication (sometimes too honest?) or is there more  blame and criticism than problem-solving? Do family members listen respectfully or talk over one another? It’s not unusual to have different ideas about how to provide care for a loved one, but how an idea is offered, including tone of voice, can mean the difference between kind and helpful or triggering a defensive response that dates back to childhood.

The primary caregiver already has a lot on his or her shoulders. Having a family member, particularly one who doesn’t help in the care, in your face demanding, complaining even threatening about what you should do can feel like a dragon breathing fire down your neck. Not helpful.

This can be exhausting when you are already running on your last nerve. One of the best ways to save your energy and avoid taking the bait (to mix a metaphor), is  SILENCE. Don’t try to be a dragon slayer. It only escalates the fight. Walk away. Distancing yourself and not engaging will protect you emotionally. It could even calm the dragon. If they won’t retreat, and if you can’t use silence, each time they raise their voice, you lower yours. This will shift the focus as they try to hear what you are saying.

Finally, it is OK to say enough is enough.If nothing you do changes the dragon, you need to seek support. Talk with an understanding friend, write in a journal, take three deep breaths, take a walk outside or meditate to help regroup. Remember you cannot fix them, so find support for yourself, and let them find theirs.

What matters most? Protect yourself by not engaging and staying calm.

Copyright © 2016 by Sue Collins and Nancy Taylor Robson. All rights reserved

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