Month: September 2022

When folks with dementia wander or become aggressive, what can caregivers do?

Our bodies are made to move. When we sit for long periods our body hurts. Our joints and bones hurt. We simply do not feel good. Now, imagine that you have a disorder or chronic health condition that makes movement more difficult or you can’t remember to exercise. Your body still needs movement to relieve pain and relieve excess energy. September 28, 2022 Move more, hurt less. Move more, rest better. Movement and exercise for the care receiver will make the care giver’s life easier.

Regular Movement and Exercise Can Decrease Agitation and Aggression

Is your loved one restless? Do they wander? Are they withdrawn? Hurting? Regular exercise and movement will help decrease these issues in people with dementia.  Do something every day. We often think about things to keep the mind busy, but we sometimes forget about the body. It takes both to make an impact on their well-being. Those dealing with Parkinson’s disease know that movement and breathing exercises help them to maintain strength and independence longer. They seem to be more open to exercise classes and doing workouts at home. Why? Probably, because they have all of their mental faculties, it is their body that is failing them and they want to be as independent as possible.

Does your loved one with dementia wander?

Those dealing with a dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are experiencing brain failure. They become less and less aware of what their body needs, but they need to have something to do.  They forget that their body needs movement and exercise. Over time, they lose the ability to reason through the many steps it takes to exercise. These folks need reminders and workout buddies to help them achieve their goals. Many times, they can mimic what they see. Family caregivers can workout with them. What they can do safely is of great importance. As with any exercise routine, a physician needs to be consulted. Maybe, a visit to physical therapy and/or occupational therapy is a good idea. PT’s and OT’s can help with an exercise program that can be done at home. Any exercise needs to be done appropriately. Form matters. Consistency matters. Never giving up matters. Rock steady boxing has great results for folks that are dealing with Parkinson’s. Deep breathing exercises and vocal exercises are important too. Walking is good for everyone. Being outside is good for everyone. Playing in the dirt (aka, gardening) is good for almost everyone.  So, what, if you have to modify things? Being adaptable is a plus.

Why we need to get tired

Walking, weightlifting and dancing are great exercises for folks that are dealing with any type of dementia. The body needs to work in order to get tired. If we don’t get tired, we get restless. We can’t sleep and we get a little testy. Now, imagine that your brain is failing and you can’t reason out these things. You only know how you feel at this moment in time. You have to get your “willies” out somehow. You wander, you follow people around, and you ask the same question over and over. Don’t forget about brain use activities. They are important too. Coloring, making something, building something, and doing a puzzle are all important, too. It does not have to be perfect. I know that some of you caregivers are thinking, “I just want to get X, Y, and Z done.” Let your loved one help, give them a job. Be fully present and engaged with them. It won’t take any more time and it may even take less time because you won’t have all of the interruptions. People with dementia often want to help or contribute in some way. This is another area where daily routines are very beneficial. Set a time to go outside for a walk. Set a time for working out, doing brain work and help with folding towels. Yes, even if they have already been folded. Mess them up and give them to your loved one so they can help.

People before things.

Help your loved one to take care of their exercise needs. Develop your routine and stick to it. Put yourself in “time-out,” when needed. Think outside of the box. Who can exercise with them for about 30 minutes every day? Total visit time would probably be 1 & ½ to 2 hours. I bet you can find other family members or friends that can do that visit.  You have to tell folks what you need help with. Those that have requested to stay at home (age in place), for as long as it is safe for all…will need to be fit, and have some strength and endurance. When they become “dead weight,” or can no longer toilet themselves, they will have to begin the transition to assisted living and nursing homes. It is possible to keep them at home with 24/7 in-home care. Strength and balance exercises are very important.

The health benefits of exercise include:

    • Improved mood
    • Better sleep
    • Reduced likelihood of constipation
    • Reduce or prevent wandering
    • Reduced aggressive behavior
    • Reduced risk of falls
    • Increased maintenance of motor skills
    • Improving heart health
    • Improved strength
    • Improved balance
You may start with 5 minutes a day and increase a minute or two every week. Dancing counts. Playing golf counts. Running errands counts. Riding bicycles counts. Walking on a treadmill counts. Yoga or Tai chi counts. Vacuuming and folding laundry counts.

For the mind:

    • Do a puzzle
    • Play a board game (Connect Four, Chutes & Ladders, Checkers)
    • Read a book aloud to them
    • Play a card game
  • Reminisce (ask them about childhood, hobbies, work life)

Behavior in a person with a dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease ALWAYS has a reason

Why is he doing this? Why is she acting this way? We always wonder why they are acting out or being disruptive, but we don’t always think about what is really going on. What is really going on is that something is bothering them and they cannot tell you what it is. You have to put on your detective hat. I promise you that they are not doing this on purpose. September 21, 2022

When people with dementia can’t tell you what is wrong

It is hard to deal with a person that cannot tell you that they are hurting, uncomfortable, or scared. They do things that don’t make any sense to us. But, remember you are in dementia land. They have less and less control over their emotions. Aggression in dementia can become scary and abusive. Aggression can become physical. It may also come out as cursing, spitting, or being verbally abusive to the care partner or helper. The aggressive behavior is thought to be the way that the person with dementia  shows anger, fear or frustration. Overboard reactions include screaming, shouting, making crazy accusations, and becoming agitated or very stubborn. They may also have uncontrolled laughing or crying. Possibly due to misunderstandings/miscommunications or even an underlying illness. Change in sexual behaviors. The person with dementia no longer knows what to do with their sexual desire or how to address it appropriately. There may be a diminished interest in sex or there may be an increased interest in sex. They may remove their clothes, make sexual advances toward others, fondle themselves in public, or mistake another person for their partner. Repetitive behaviors include asking the same question over and over and over, pacing, undoing something that you have just done, or word repeating. Give them something to do. Wandering or leaving. Maybe they are “trying to go home,” or “they are going to work.” You may have to hide “exit cues” or “trigger items,” such as keys, shoes, jackets, purses, or hats. Try to engage with talking or reminiscing while distracting them from leaving. Sleep disruptions. Dementia affects sleep patterns. Have the doctor rule out other possible causes. Keep them active and on a schedule during the day. They need physical exercise (walking 30 -45 minutes each day). Is the sleeping environment dark, and quiet? Is the temperature in the bedroom comfortable? Make sure they have sunlight during the day and even if they can’t go outside a lot, they can see the sunlight through the windows. Delusions and Hallucinations: False beliefs, paranoia, and hallucinations may occur. Sometimes, the hallucinations are pleasant and sometimes they are not. Strong emotional memories from their past may recur. They will feel as though they are experiencing them in real time, all over again. If they are not bothered by the hallucination, then leave it be. If they are distressed, talk with the doctor to rule out other causes or to change/update medications. You can acknowledge their experience with a matter-of-fact tone without agreeing or disagreeing with them. You could say something like, “That is interesting.”, “I don’t see that.”, or acknowledge what they have said and move on to another topic. I saw this article from Better Health and would like to share it with you.

Sleeping problems in dementia

Problems with sleeping are common for people with dementia. Some people sleep during the day and are awake and restless at night. Some are no longer able to tell the difference between night and day, while others are simply not as active as they used to be and so need less sleep. Problems with sleeping or late evening agitation are often a stage in dementia that eventually passes. Many people with dementia sleep more during the later stages of the illness. Sleep problems are among the most difficult dementia symptoms for carers. Families and carers must be able to get adequate sleep themselves. Plan regular periods of rest and regular breaks for yourself, as well as for the person with dementia.

Medical possible causes of sleeping problems in dementia

Sleeping problems may be caused by physiological or medical causes including:
    • brain damage (caused by the dementia) that affects the ‘biological clock’ in the brain that directs our sleep patterns
    • illness such as angina, congestive heart failure, diabetes or ulcers
    • pain caused by conditions such as arthritis
    • urinary tract infections that cause a frequent need to urinate
    • leg crampsor ‘restless legs’, which can indicate a metabolic problem
    • depressionthat causes early morning wakening and an inability to get back to sleep
    • side effects of medication, such as antidepressants and diuretics
    • snoring and sleep apnoea
    • ageing that causes sleep patterns to change so that some people need more sleep and some need less.

Things you can try include:

    • Discuss with the doctor the possibility of stopping or changing diuretic medication (which makes a person urinate), because this may be contributing to the problem.
    • Arrange a medical check-up to identify and treat physical symptoms.
    • Treat pain with an analgesic (pain-relieving medication) at bedtime if the doctor agrees.
    • Discuss with the doctor whether sedatives may be contributing to the problem.
    • Ask the doctor whether an assessment for depression may be necessary.
    • Ask the doctor about possible side effects of medication.
    • In some situations, it may be necessary to consider discussing with the doctor the appropriateness of either using tranquillising medication or sleeping medication. Sleeping medication may be helpful in the short term to establish a better sleep cycle, but both types of medication can have negative effects, such as increased confusion.

Environmental causes of sleeping problems in dementia

The environment of the person with dementia can cause sleeping problems in a number of ways including:
    • The bedroom may be too hot or too cold.
    • Poor lighting may cause the person to become disoriented.
    • The person may not be able to find the bathroom.
    • Changes in the environment, such as moving to a new home or having to be hospitalised, can cause disorientation and confusion.

Things you can try include:

    • Keep the environment as consistent as possible.
    • Check whether the person is too hot or cold when they wake up, because dementia can affect the body’s internal thermostat.
    • Provide adequate lighting if shadows, glare or poor lighting are contributing to agitation and hallucinations.
    • Move the mirror in the bedroom if the person becomes confused when they do not recognise their own reflection or the reflection of others in the room.
    • Install night-lights that might help cut down on confusion at night and may help the person to find the bathroom.
    • Place a commode next to the bed if finding the bathroom is a problem.
    • Make sure the bed and bedroom are comfortable and familiar, because familiar objects may help to orient the person.
    • Avoid having daytime clothing in view at night, because this may make the person think it is time to get up.
    • Make sure that the person is getting enough exercise – try taking one or two walks each day.

Other causes of sleeping problems in dementia

Other causes of sleeping problems may include:
    • going to bed too early
    • sleeping too much during the day
    • overtiredness, causing tenseness and inability to fall asleep
    • not enough exercise, so the person does not feel tired
    • too much caffeine or alcohol
    • feeling hungry
    • agitation following an upsetting situation
    • disturbing dreams.

Managing sleeping problems with food and drink

Some suggestions include:
    • Cut down on caffeine (coffee, cola, tea, chocolate) during the day and cut them out altogether after 5 pm.
    • Cut down on alcohol and discuss the effects of alcohol and medication with the doctor.
    • If you think the person may be hungry at night, try a light snack just before bed or when they wake up during the night.
    • Herbal teas and warm milk may be helpful.

Managing sleeping problems through daily routine

Some suggestions include:
    • Try not to do any tasks in the late afternoon that may be upsetting to the person.
    • If the person refuses to go to bed, try offering alternatives such as sleeping on the sofa.
    • In some situations, it may be necessary to consider discussing the appropriateness of either using sedative medication or sleeping medication with the doctor. If the person wanders at night, consider allowing this, but check that the house is safe.
    • Try a back rub before bed or during a wakeful period.
    • Try a radio beside the bed that softly plays music.
    • Gently remind the person that it is the evening and time for sleep.

Hoarding in dementia

FYI – People with dementia may often appear driven to search for something that they believe is missing and to hoard things for safekeeping.

Some causes of hoarding behaviours include:
    • isolation – when a person with dementia is left alone or feels neglected, they may focus completely on themselves. The need to hoard is a common response
    • memories of the past – events in the present can trigger memories of the past, such as living with brothers and sisters who took their things, or living through the Depression or a war with a young family to feed
    • loss – people with dementia continually lose parts of their lives. Losing friends, family, a meaningful role in life, their income and a reliable memory can increase a person’s need to hoard
    • fear – a fear of being robbed is another common experience. The person may hide something precious, forget where it has been hidden and then blame someone for stealing it.

Managing hoarding

Things that you can do to help manage hoarding behaviour in dementia include:
    • Learn the person’s usual hiding places and check these first for missing items.
    • Provide a drawer full of odds and ends for the person to sort out, as this can satisfy the need to be busy.
    • Make sure the person can find their way about – an inability to recognise the environment may be adding to the problem of hoarding.

Repetitive behaviour in dementia

People with dementia may say or ask things repeatedly. They may also become very clinging and shadow the person caring for them, even following them to the toilet. These behaviours can be very upsetting and irritating for families and carers.

Managing repetitive behaviour

Things that you can do to help manage repetitive behaviour in dementia include:
    • If an explanation doesn’t help, distraction sometimes works. A walk, food or doing a favourite activity might help.
    • It may help to acknowledge the feeling expressed. For example, ‘What am I doing today?’ may mean that the person is feeling lost and uncertain, and a response to this feeling might help.
    • Do not remind the person that they have already asked the question.
    • Repetitive movements may be reduced by giving the person something else to do with their hands, such as a soft ball to squeeze or clothes to fold.

Wandering in dementia

Wandering is quite common among people with dementia and can be very worrying for those concerned for their safety and wellbeing. The person’s failing memory and declining ability to communicate may make it impossible for them to remember or explain the reason they wandered.

FYI – Develop an action plan for when a person with dementia wanders, such as noting the clothing they were wearing, and contacting neighbours and the police.

Reasons that a person with dementia might wander include:

    • changed environment
    • loss of memory
    • excess energy
    • searching for the past
    • expressing boredom
    • confusing night with day
    • continuing a long-held habit
    • agitation
    • discomfort or pain
    • believing they have a job to perform.

Managing wandering

Things that you can do to help manage wandering in dementia include:
    • Get a physical check-up for the person to help identify whether illness, pain or discomfort has triggered the wandering.
    • Discuss the side effects of medication with the doctor – try to avoid medication that may increase confusion, and cause drowsiness and possibly incontinence.
    • Consider the psychological causes of wandering to try to determine if the person is anxious, depressed or frightened.
    • Make sure that the person carries some form of identification that includes their current address, if travelling
    • Use identification cards available from Alzheimer’s Australia.

Sundowning in dementia

People with dementia may become more confused, restless or insecure late in the afternoon or early evening. This is known as sundowning and these behaviour changes can become worse after a move or a change in routine. The person with dementia may become more demanding, restless, upset, suspicious, disoriented and even see, hear or believe things that aren’t real, especially at night. Attention span and concentration can become even more limited. Some people may become more impulsive, responding to their own ideas of reality, and this may place them at risk. Visit the doctor for a check-up and a review of medication. There are a number of physical and environmental changes you can make to restrict stimulating activities to the morning and promote relaxation in the afternoon and evening. When you are dealing with all kinds of behaviors, you will need a way to calm your own frustration. Sometimes, you need to walk away and take a few minutes to compose your own thoughts and settle down. Is what they are doing hazardous or frustrating and aggravating? Unless it is dangerous or hazardous, leave them alone.

Know your own warning signs of frustration:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Knot in the throat
    • Stomach cramps
    • Chest pains
    • Headache
    • Compulsive eating
    • Excessive alcohol consumption
    • Increased smoking
    • Lack of patience
    • Desire to strike out
If you don’t deal with your own frustrations, anger and resentment are not far behind. Pat

Engage your loved one who has had a stroke or has a dementia, don’t be a babysitter!

Think about it. Are you really having a conversation or are you just placating them so that you can get crap done? As the care giver or care partner are you even aware that your care receiver has needs that you can easily meet while you are handling tasks? I get it. A lot of us are task-oriented and do not want to be bothered with other things while we are doing our tasks. That would be great if our care receiver was not a human being. Take the time to talk with them. September 14, 2022

When you are doing basic tasks

Most of the tasks you will be doing, will not take a lot of brain power or concentration. Let the stroke survivor help. Let the person with dementia help. Some tasks will take brainpower and you will need quiet time to concentrate, but not a lot of them. It does not take brain power or concentration to do laundry, wash dishes(place in or take out of dishwasher), cook something, sweep or mop, etc. You can be engaging your care receiver by talking, telling stories, or singing together. Paying bills, comparing EOB’s with medical bills and figuring things out, will take concentration and brain power. You do need quiet time for those types of things. To get that quiet time, engage your loved one before you get started. Take 10-15 minutes to be fully present with them.

Your loved one can sense your attitude

Remember, they can sense your attitude and feelings towards them even if they have any type of dementia. If they have a physical disability or injury, and they need a little help, they still like to be engaged in conversation or stay up-to-date with what is going on with you, the community, and the world. Let your loved one do whatever they can do, even if it takes three times as long. We talk a lot about dementia patients, but let’s focus on care receivers that have a physical disability, such as stroke survivors. Stroke survivors need repetition and to continuously try things. It takes them longer but they can get better and better.

They need help and encouragement.

    • Encourage them to do the exercises they have been given by their physical or occupational therapists. You have to rewire the brain and movement is key.
    • Allow them to do what they can do, even if they struggle. Unless they ask for your help, let them keep working on it. Be helpful, but not overbearing.
    • You may have access to a social worker or counselor, and use them for help and resources. An occupational therapist can help with identifying home modifications that would help.
    • New stroke side effects may arise after going home. Be alert and contact their doctor.
    • Understand that sometimes, the stroke survivor may have a little setback, before they move forward again.
    • Always push past the plateau. There may be a time (3-6 months after a stroke) that “getting better” seems to level off. It may seem that way, but the brain is still healing and working. Keep on, keeping on. Changing exercises or rehab strategies may help, too.
    • There may be emotional changes after a stroke. There may also be outbursts of laughing or crying due to pseudobulbar affect.
    • Report falls to doctor
    • Don’t give up, keep striving for the best. (Independence depends on this.)
As a care giver, learn as much as you can about your care receiver’s stroke. What areas of the brain were affected? What do those areas control? What to expect physically, emotionally and mentally.

Some of the symptoms that a stroke survivor may experience:

    • Loss of control of movement &/or feeling in some parts of the body (This usually occurs on the side of the body opposite from the side of the brain affected.)
    • Changes in muscle tone on the affected side of the body
    • Involuntary muscle contractions
    • Difficulty sitting, standing or walking
    • Reduced ability to balance
    • Problems with speaking and/or understanding speech
    • Confusion and/or poor memory
    • Decreased control over bladder, bowel or both
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Reduced control over emotions
The following is from Johns Hopkins Medicine

What are the effects of stroke?

The effects of stroke vary from person to person based on the type, severity, location, and number of strokes. The brain is very complex. Each area of the brain is responsible for a specific function or ability. When an area of the brain is damaged from a stroke, the loss of normal function of part of the body may occur. This may result in a disability. The brain is divided into 3 main areas:
    • Cerebrum (right and left sides or hemispheres)
    • Cerebellum (top and front of the brain)
    • Brainstem (base of the brain)
Depending on which of these regions of the brain the stroke occurs, the effects may be very different.

What effects can be seen with a stroke in the cerebrum?

The cerebrum is the part of the brain that occupies the top and front portions of the skull. It controls movement and sensation, speech, thinking, reasoning, memory, vision, and emotions. The cerebrum is divided into the right and left sides, or hemispheres.

Depending on the area and side of the cerebrum affected by the stroke, any, or all, of these functions may be impaired:

    • Movement and sensation
    • Speech and language
    • Eating and swallowing
    • Vision
    • Cognitive (thinking, reasoning, judgment, and memory) ability
    • Perception and orientation to surroundings
    • Self-care ability
    • Bowel and bladder control
    • Emotional control
    • Sexual ability
In addition to these general effects, some specific impairments may occur when a particular area of the cerebrum is damaged. suffered a life-threatening stroke that left half her face paralyzed, a devastating loss for a talented

The effects of a right hemisphere stroke may include:

    • Left-sided weakness or paralysis and sensory impairment
    • Denial of paralysis or impairment and reduced insight into the problems created by the stroke (this is called “left neglect”)
    • Visual problems, including an inability to see the left visual field of each eye
    • Spatial problems with depth perception or directions, such as up or down and front or back
    • Inability to localize or recognize body parts
    • Inability to understand maps and find objects, such as clothing or toiletry items
    • Memory problems
    • Behavioral changes, such as lack of concern about situations, impulsivity, inappropriateness, and depression

The effects of a left hemisphere stroke may include:

    • Right-sided weakness or paralysis and sensory impairment
    • Problems with speech and understanding language (aphasia)
    • Visual problems, including the inability to see the right visual field of each eye
    • Impaired ability to do math or to organize, reason, and analyze items
    • Behavioral changes, such as depression, cautiousness, and hesitancy
    • Impaired ability to read, write, and learn new information
    • Memory problems
What effects can be seen with a stroke in the cerebellum? The cerebellum is located beneath and behind the cerebrum towards the back of the skull. It receives sensory information from the body through the spinal cord. It helps coordinate muscle action and control, fine movement, coordination, and balance. Although strokes are less common in the cerebellum area, the effects can be severe.

 Four common effects of strokes in the cerebellum include:

    • Inability to walk and problems with coordination and balance (ataxia)
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Nausea and vomiting
What effects can be seen with a stroke in the brainstem? The brainstem is located at the base of the brain right above the spinal cord. Many of the body’s vital “life-support” functions such as heartbeat, blood pressure, and breathing are controlled by the brainstem. It also helps control the main nerves involved with eye movement, hearing, speech, chewing, and swallowing.

Some common effects of a stroke in the brainstem include problems with:

    • Breathing and heart functions
    • Body temperature control
    • Balance and coordination
    • Weakness or paralysis
    • Chewing, swallowing and speaking
    • Vision
    • Coma
Unfortunately, death is possible with brainstem strokes. Over time, it may be harder for the stroke survivor to stay motivated during recovery. The two main contributors to this are apathy and depression. Apathy is a loss of motivation, concern, interest, and emotional response after a stroke. Feeling sad after a major life event that turns your world upside down is normal, depression seems to affect 30-50 percent of stroke survivors. Signs of depression include feelings of hopelessness and sadness that do not go away.

FYI – Help stroke survivors to stay motivated.

Set relevant and achievable goals Address the emotional challenges and get help with medications and talk therapy Help the stroke survivor understand about their stroke, the changes, the rehab, the plateau, etc. Have a consistent routine, do it no matter how you feel about it Find what motivates them

When motivation fails, discipline takes over – just do it


Why does your own health take a dive when you are a family caregiver?

We have seen the studies. We have experienced a decline in our own health all the while ignoring our own health needs. We know that we need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of our loved ones. We know that caregivers can often wind up in worse physical shape than those they are caring for. Still, we do nothing for ourselves. Why? September 7, 2022 We are stubborn people. We all  believe that we can handle “this.” We must handle “this.” You may even hear and believe that “God doesn’t give you more than you can bear.” That is not a true statement. Go read it. 1 Cor. 10:13. God will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. He will provide a way of escape. God will give you the grace you need in every situation. His power helps us use the resources that we have and can get to handle whatever is in front of us.

Try for a both/and solution and not an either/or solution when you are the caregiver

Do we think that we have to suffer or put our own lives on hold to help or care for someone we love? You see, that is more of the “either/or” thinking and not the “both/and.” Get out of the “either/or” thinking mindset. Get into the “both/and” types of thinking. If you have only thought of the “either/or” possibilities, then you can learn to think of a “both/and” possibility. More on this later.

What attitudes and beliefs do you have that stand in your way?

    • Do you think you are being selfish if you put your needs first?
    • Is it frightening to think of your own needs? What is the fear about?
    • Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Do you feel inadequate if you ask for help?
    • Do you feel you have to prove that you are worthy of the care recipient’s affection? Do you do too much as a result?
Really think about the above questions. It may be time to take 30 minutes to think and talk to yourself. Writing it out helps you to get to the real issues/answers.

Here are some ways that your own mind will kick your ass when you are wondering what your caregiving responsibilities are…

    • I am responsible for my parent’s health.
    • If I don’t do it, no one will.
    • If I do it right, I will get the love, attention, and respect I deserve.
    • Our family always takes care of their own.
    • I promised my father I would always take care of my mother.
Your own negative self-talk will get you into trouble. Just because you think it, does not make it true or right. Circumstances may have changed and you can no longer keep your promises. Don’t hold yourself to impossible standards made in the heat of concern/passion. Our behavior is based on our own thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and misconceptions. Remember, your feelings can and will lie to you. You may believe something that is simply not true. Half-truths are what make up great lies. You do get to choose what you will or will not do. You do not get to choose what you can and cannot control. That is not the way life works. Yes, it sometimes is awful, frustrating, and maddening. What can you truly control? Your attitude. Your own actions. Your self-talk. Your gratitude. Your own mental and physical fitness. Your eating habits. Your sleep. Your boundaries. What you prioritize?

Things you do not have control over:

    • You can’t control other people (what they do or what they say).
    • You can’t control how other people see you.
    • You can’t control what happens to other people.
    • You can’t control your thoughts or feelings, they just are. You don’t have to act on them, though.
    • You can’t control the outcome.
    • You can’t control other people’s happiness.
    • You can’t control the past.
    • You can’t control the future.
    • You can’t control that change is inevitable.
Stop wasting your energy and time on things you cannot control. Focus on what you can control and actually make a difference. Will you reduce your personal stress? The problem isn’t always the problem. The problem is how we perceive the problem. The meanings we attach to the problem. The following information is from Family Caregiver Alliance

Your level of stress is influenced by many factors, including the following:

    • Whether your caregiving is voluntary. If you feel you had no choice in taking on the responsibilities, the chances are greater that you will experience strain, distress, and resentment.
    • Your relationship with the care recipient. Sometimes people care for another with the hope of healing a relationship. If healing does not occur, you may feel regret and discouragement.
    • Your coping abilities. How you coped with stress in the past predicts how you will cope now. Identify your current coping strengths so that you can build on them.
    • Your caregiving situation. Some caregiving situations are more stressful than others. For example, caring for a person with dementia is often more stressful than caring for someone with a physical limitation.
    • Whether or not support is available.

Steps to Managing Stress (Before you get to caregiver burnout)

    • Recognize warning signs early. These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness. Know your own warning signs, and act to make changes. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed.
    • Identify sources of stress. Ask yourself, “What is causing stress for me?” Sources of stress might be that you have too much to do, family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, or the inability to say no.
    • Identify what you can and cannot change. Remember, we can only change ourselves; we cannot change another person. When you try to change things over which you have no control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?” Even a small change can make a big difference. The challenge we face as caregivers is well expressed in the following words modified from the original Serenity Prayer (attributed to American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr):
  • God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.
    • Take action. Taking some action to reduce stress gives us back a sense of control. Stress reducers can be simple activities like walking and other forms of exercise, gardening, meditation, or having coffee with a friend. Identify some stress reducers that work for you.
Pretty good information, huh?

Have you considered the real reasons that you do not take appropriate care of yourself?

    • You haven’t made your health a priority.
    • You don’t feel you have enough time to do all you “need” to do.
    • You feel guilty taking some time away from your loved one.
    • You don’t have the energy.
    • You have reached the burnout stage.
    • You won’t accept things as they are, right now.
    • You won’t put yourself in the mix of things to handle.

10 Health Problems Caused by Chronic Stress

    • Weakening of the immune system, which increases vulnerability to colds and other infections
    • Mental health disorders (e.g., anxiety, panic attacks, depression, mood swings)
    • Cardiovascular problems (e.g., high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, high cholesterol levels, increased risk of heart attack and stroke)
    • Metabolic disorders (e.g., metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity)
    • Gastrointestinal issues (e.g., ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, chronic bowel disorders)
    • Muscle tension and pain (e.g., backaches, neck pain, jaw pain, tension headaches, migraines)
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Respiratory problems (e.g., shortness of breath, rapid breathing, exacerbation of existing lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Worsening of skin conditions (e.g., eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea, hives)
Which of these have you noticed in your own life? As you can see, you have to decide if your health is worth taking care of so that you feel better and are able to be the caregiver your loved one needs. Prevention is much easier than fixing a problem after it has happened. You do deserve to be happy and healthy. You do deserve to provide better care and get your life back. My services can help you achieve your goals. Pat