Being a caregiver can be a scary thing, especially when we are new to the field. The guide shares a few ideas for conquering some of those fears and phobias when taking care of a loved one once and for all! Please note, the fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) is used as an example – though the steps are applicable to any fear.
1. Expose yourself to fear.
If you have a phobia, you probably go out of your way to avoid the thing that causes you to feel afraid. In the claustrophobia example, you may refuse to use lifts, as they make you feel uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, by avoiding the scenario you fear – the lift – you are actually increasing your overall fear. Avoidance does nothing but make a situation worse, and you need to face the fear before you can conquer it. That means getting into a lift, even if just for one floor. Make yourself do it.
2. Positive reinforcement.
After you have forced yourself to confront your fear once, you need to make it a positive experience. This can be having a dessert you enjoy following your ordeal, or buying something nice from your favorite store. Do this as soon as possible following your first attempt to confront the fear – in the example, you should dive into a cupcake the second you step out of the lift. As a caregiver, you should always show your support to your loved one as much as possible. Let them know you understand their fear, and that you are there to help them conquer it. If you are the one experiencing fear, let your loved one know and ask them for their love and support while you conquer it.
3. Rinse, and repeat.
The way to conquer a phobia is to do the above, over and over again. As you do so, you will learn to manage the fear, and you will also learn that there really is no danger in what panicked you. By continuing to deliberately expose yourself to your fear, and then allowing a congratulatory moment when you succeed, over time, you will rid yourself of the fear forever. Be a team! The caregiver and the loved one receiving care can help each other conquer their fears, together.
Overcoming fear can be intimidating. In order to be the best caregiver you can be, conquering your fears are a must! If you need guidance on how to do this, you need to pre-order my new book, Lifted. It will include a workbook that will help you work through each step.
Have you ever observed someone who seems to be busy all the time, but doesn’t really get anything done? Do you feel that sometimes you’re in the same boat? How do you know if you’re productive or just busy? It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the everyday tasks when taking care of a loved one. As a caregiver it’s important that we manage our time efficiently, not only to give proper care to our loved one, but to also make the necessary time to take care of ourselves.
Do you have goals? People who are productive generally have goals and focus all of their work on achieving those goals. Of course there are always going to be distractions and obstacles when taking care of a loved one but those distractions don’t take priority over the big picture.
Do you focus or multi-task? People who multi-task often seem very busy. They’re always doing something, but they’re rarely doing any one thing very well. Tackle each obstacle you face as a caregiver directly, you’ll be more productive if you focus on doing one thing at a time.
Do you delegate? Sometimes you may take on tasks that would really be better to delegate to someone else. It can be easy to want to say yes to every task because you want to provide for your loved one. But you might be able to delegate personal tasks while keeping the focus on business tasks. This will improve the quality of care given to your loved one, and minimize the personal burnout you feel as a caregiver.
Do you say no? People who are productive know how to say no to something that is going to take them away from their own important work. It’s okay to say no when you really don’t have time to fit in one more thing. Don’t feel guilty when saying no to certain tasks related to your loved one. Instead, feel reassured knowing that this will benefit both of you in the long run.
Do you let some things go? It may sound counterproductive to erase some tasks from your to-do list. But you may find that you have given yourself tasks that really won’t move your vision forward and will take up extra time. It’s okay to scratch something off the list and go a different way.
Do you have a schedule? People who are productive tend to have a schedule for each day of what needs to be done and when. If you’re not planning ahead, chances are you’re staying busy but not productive.
Do you complete projects? You can be busy doing something all day long, every day and never get a project completed. If you find you’re starting a lot of things without finishing them, it’s time to look at your priorities and become more productive.
Do you feel peace? When you spend your time very busy but not accomplishing much you might feel a sense of anxiety. You may worry about all the things you need to do that aren’t getting done. Try as best as you can to remain present in each moment. Rather than expressing a sense of anxiety, this will help you express gratitude appreciating the time you get to spend with your loved one.
But when you’re productive, you can actually feel peace when it comes to work. You know what’s important and you have a plan to get it done on time.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the everyday tasks when taking care of a loved one. As a caregiver it’s crucial that we manage our time efficiently. Not only to provide the utmost of quality care to our loved one but to also make the necessary time to take care of ourselves. If you are struggling with how to manage your time, you need to pre-order my new book, Lifted. It will include a workbook that will help you work through each step!
There are times when we have to step up to the plate and do some very hard things. Few things are harder than supporting someone with a chronic or terminal illness. Though difficult, it’s an honor to be a support to someone as they walk out their final life experiences.
Supporting someone you love with a chronic or terminal illness won’t have a playbook. There isn’t a step-by-step manual listing out where to walk, what to say, and how to be. You’re going to figure things out as you go but even though there aren’t any specific rules, there are some common practices that will make things a bit more comfortable.
Get used to being uncomfortable- The sooner you can open up to the fact things are going to be uncomfortable, the sooner you can be open to managing whatever happens. Having a “whatever it takes” attitude and letting your loved one know you are there regardless of how uncomfortable things may be will help them focus on their own needs rather than worrying about yours.
Ask- It’s that simple. Ask how you can help, when you can help, and if you can help. Your job is to offer and their job is to allow you in or set a safe boundary to keep you on the ready if they are not up for company or assistance.
Listen- Lots of support comes from simply being there and listening. People are do-ers and in their doing, feel like they are making a difference. Sometimes there is nothing to be done but to sit in companionship and offer your support.
Meet people wherever they are emotionally- You can expect a wide range of emotions as your loved one comes to terms with their situation. You may see every emotion on any given day. From denial and anger to resignation or peace. Try to meet your loved one where they are and engage with them in a peaceful and loving way.
Learn from the journey- Though we don’t all know when our time will come to die; we can be assured it is coming. Going through an end-of-life experience with someone else can help you better prepare for your own experience. Learn from them and decide for yourself what matters to you when you think about your own end-of-life needs. How you want your medical care, financial care, and family to care for you.
Supporting someone you love with a chronic illness will bring out the best you have to offer. It is an honor and a privilege to support someone as they navigate the final days of their lives. Don’t put too much pressure on performance. Be compassionate and caring and the rest will fall into place.
There are things you generally don’t talk about in polite company- politics and religion top the list. Being considerate about tricky topics is a good thing. Avoiding uncomfortable things helps people feel at ease but sometimes you have to get comfortable talking about uncomfortable things.
Talking about death, dying, and making plans might feel morbid but it is a necessary part of living. Being able to share your thoughts about things like:
What sort of care you consent to in the event of an accident or injury
If you want to be revived or kept on life support
Where you want to live in the event you can’t live at home
Who should make medical or other decisions on your behalf if you are unable
Your thoughts on funeral planning and burial options
One of the reasons it’s so hard to talk about uncomfortable things is the feeling there is little control. The truth is, if you do not have plans in place, you’ll have very little control but if you do have plans in place, much of your care and aftercare is well within your control. All the more reason to have tough talks!
Here are some tips for getting comfortable talking about uncomfortable things
Tip #1. Do your homework- The more you know about a subject, the less uncomfortable it is. There’s nothing you can’t learn about any subject connected to the legal, financial, and medical aspects of end-of-life care. Educate yourself and you will be well equipped to have intelligent and easier talks about the subjects.
Tip #2. Prepare your audience- If you are going to have an uncomfortable discussion, prepare your family or friends beforehand. Don’t blindside someone with a tough talk they may not be emotionally ready for. Instead, give them time to get ready and be mentally prepared to absorb what you need to share.
Tip #3. Practice- The more often you talk about uncomfortable things, the easier it will be. Start with professionals like clergy, medical staff, or attorneys before chatting with family or friends. Practicing your conversation will help you find the best words to use as well as become more comfortable speaking them.
Some conversations are going to be tough no matter what. Being able to speak about uncomfortable things more comfortably helps those who depend on you feel safer and more prepared to help when the time comes. Get comfortable by doing your homework, prepping your audience, and practicing your conversation beforehand.
5 Tips for Decreasing the Cost of Caring for Elderly Parents
Over 30 million Baby Boomers provide countless hours of
assistance to elderly parents at no charge. It is estimated that, using average
hourly wages, the total amount of this uncompensated care is comparable to the
entire Medicare budget. For the estimated 7 million Boomers who provide long
distance care, actual out of pocket expenses amount to almost $5,000 per month.
For caregivers who have, or are considering leaving the workforce to care for
an ailing parent, the costs are even greater over $650,000 in forfeited
salaries, benefits and pensions.
This stark economic reality shows only one dimension of the
price caregivers pay for this act of love.
Caregivers pay with losses that extend well beyond their
bank accounts. They often forego the activities that bring joy and richness to
their lives, like meeting friends for dinner, or going out to the movies or
taking family vacations. They pay with their time, the loss of professional
opportunities and the erosion of personal relationships that result in
Sometimes, otherwise healthy loved ones need a short dose of
care as they recover from an acute medical episode like a broken leg. Usually
loved ones are on a path of steady decline with cascading assistance needs.
Some caregivers sacrifice large chunks of their own lives as they help their
parents and other family members and friends peacefully make their transitions.
Caregivers can pay with their own health and well-being. In fact, we have
evidence that some caregivers pay for their acts of care with their very lives.
You can decrease the personal and economic costs of
caregiving. This means proactive planning rather than reactive responding.
Planning saves money. You know this as you reflect upon your experiences of
going to the grocery store with and without a shopping list. Planning also
minimizes personal wear and tear and decreases stress. You will feel much
better when you know your options and develop back-up plans before you jump
into a challenging project.
5 Tips to Decrease
the Cost of Caregiving:
1. Begin the
conversation today. We have tremendous cultural resistance to the
recognition of aging, disability and death. Just as the first few steps uphill
are the hardest, so, too, you may meet the greatest resistance simply starting
the conversation about their possible need for care. Say today, Mom and Dad, it
would be great if you lived forever, but the discovery for the fountain of
youth is nowhere on the horizon. What thoughts and plans do you have about
enjoying your golden years?
2. Create a plan.
Talk with your parents about their ideal plan if they are no longer able to
care for themselves. Then, start to work toward that proactively. Investigate
long-term care insurance. Draw up the appropriate legal documents. Find out who
would make medical choices if they were not able to make them on their own,
along with some guiding principles for the choices. You can anticipate and
limit parental resistance by saying, Mom and Dad, I just got back from the
lawyers office signing my will and durable medical power of attorney. I’ve
asked Mitch to make my medical choices if I cannot make them myself. Just so
you know, if I were in vegetative state, I wouldn’t want to be maintained on a
machine. You probably already planned ahead too, right?
3. Use personal and
community resources. Make caregiving a family job to which each member
contributes. Even children can make grandmas life special with drawings and
phone calls. Identify services that make your job as a caregiver easier. If you
and your parents live in the same community, check with friends and neighbors
and local organizations to learn about services and resources that will make
your job easier. You say, Mom has just moved in with us, and she wants to find
a card game with the girls. Do you know of any senior centers that have social
events? How about transportation?
Were a mobile society and millions of caregivers live more
than an hour away from their parents? Executive William Gillis learned from his
own personal experience how challenging it is to identify community resources
from afar. As he was carving the path that ultimately led his on-line portfolio
management service, he became the caregiver for his father. Talk about mixed
emotions! Professionally, he was introducing a service that let millions manage
their investments with one click of a computer mouse. Personally, he was
investing untold hours just to find one bit of information to help his dad.
As with so many innovators, he used his personal and
professional experience to launch Parent Care, a service that he wished would
have made his life as a caregiver-at-a-distance easier.
cost-savings tips. This might mean something as simple as ordering generic
medication or regularly inquiring about senior discounts. But, most cost
savings opportunities aren’t as obvious. Mr. Gillis found, for example, that
some states will pay for phones for hearing, visually or mobility limited
seniors or fund home safety improvements. He said, we’ve invested heavily to
locate time and money saving resources that most would have difficulty finding.
I made it a personal mission to help other caregivers avoid some of the costs
and frustration I encountered. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Tap into
the resources others have collected.
5. Take care of
yourself. You will be able to provide the best care as a caregiver when
you’re at your best. Get good nutrition, enough sleep and regular exercise.
Manage your stress and do a little something every day to nurture your soul.
Understand that you are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, and weakening
your immune system. Talk to your doctor if you see worrisome signs such as
problems sleeping, changes in appetite or loss of interest in activities you
Despite the costs, most caregivers say that they received
much more than they gave. Most say they would do it again, and many do.
Sometimes the question is not the personal cost of
caregiving; it’s the value that you bring to the lives of others that matter at
the end. What personal cost are you willing to pay for the privilege of helping
those who welcomed you into the world to enjoy their golden years and travel
the road of illness with love and dignity?