Category: Caregiver Information

You think you can. You said you will. But, do you have the knowledge and expertise to do it safely?

Most of the time we don’t think about all the consequences before we jump in and do what we do. Maybe it isn’t really consequences, but more the techniques and training you will need for certain tasks.  Unfortunately, some caregiving tasks are not on-the-job training. They can be dangerous to your loved one and to you if not done properly.

July 6, 2022

Find your strengths and your “not-so-good-ats” (weaknesses). Find your helpers. Have them figure out their strengths and “not-so-good-ats” too. You will have to honestly assess your abilities, your capabilities, and your training needs.

You know that there are some things that you can do, things that you can take care of and things that others will need to handle. Knowing is always better. It helps you to make a plan, make a schedule and prepare for the future.

Sure, you can fly by the seat of your pants and find yourself in a constant state of managing by crises. Talk about exhausting, frustrating and maddening, this will do it. Planning for what you can plan for makes everyone feel more safe, secure and settled. When the unexpected arises, you can handle it easier and with less stress.

Some tasks that caregivers do, provide and handle.

  • Buy groceries, cook, clean house, do laundry, provide transportation
  • Help the care receiver get dressed, take a shower, take medicine
  • Transfer someone out of bed/chair, help with physical therapy, perform medical interventions—injections, feeding tubes, wound treatment, breathing treatments
  • Arrange medical appointments, drive to the doctor, sit in during appointments, monitor medications
  • Talk with doctors, nurses, care managers, and others to understand what needs to be done
  • Spend time handling crises and arranging for assistance—especially for someone who cannot be left alone
  • Handle finances and other legal matters
  • Be a companion
  • Be a (usually) unpaid aide, on call 24/7
  • Be some emotional support
  • Be backup care and extra care when needed
  • Take care of lawn maintenance, outside house maintenance
  • Help with wheelchair usage
  • Help with oxygen usage
  • Help with CPAP machine usage
  • Help them walk with a belt to decrease fall risks
  • Help turn them and move them in bed
  • Help with hearing aid insertion and removal
  • Help with false teeth
  • Bathe them (maintaining modesty and dignity)
  • Change sheets with them in the bed
  • Pay bills
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Help/Monitoring physical therapy exercises at home
  • Checking blood sugar (how and when)
  • Checking blood pressure
  • Checking weight
  • Handle a crisis or an emergency
  • And much more

As you can see, some of these things you can do and handle. Others may take some training. I know that there are online training courses and probably some in-person training places in some areas. You will need to search in your area for what is available.

Tennessee Department of Health

NFSP

Meet Caregivers Caregiver Training

Caregiver Training online course

A Place for Mom trainings and videos

APFM videos and courses

These will get you started.

Do you have the physical strength to transfer the care receiver? Do you have the physical strength to help someone get into and out of the shower or bath that is mostly dead weight? Toileting and bathing are intimate experiences and are very tough to handle. Not everyone can or will learn do it. It can be very unnerving and very uncomfortable. Your loved one will feel the same way. Be patient and respectful. It is going to take more time than you think for bathing.

Personal hygiene is probably the hardest to do. No one likes it, but it is necessary. You will have to make the decision to do it, all of the love you feel for them will not make it any easier.  You will have to use discipline to get it done. Get yourself trained. The training will help you to feel more comfortable with doing it safely. The training will help you increase your confidence. The training will help your loved one feel more safe and secure.

You are more apt to be able to help with personal hygiene if you have been properly trained. As many family members as possible need this type of training. It is a learnable skill. Focus on the positive aspects of them being clean. Think about how you feel after a bath or shower. You do feel better. You do rest better. Teeth brushed, hair combed, lotion on body with clean clothes makes everyone feel better.

Full bathing two or three times a week is good enough. Do spot cleaning on the other days. You want to keep the skin from breaking down. You want to prevent infections from happening. A daily bath for dementia patients is better because they like routine. Lotion up after the bath. You can find your routine and rhythm.

What if you have a bad back and you need to help your loved one out of a chair or from the floor. How can you do that without hurting them or yourself? Learn the techniques. How much dead weight can you lift safely? Get yourself trained.

When you can no longer do personal hygiene or lift and transfer safely, it is time to bring in home care help or begin the transitioning to assisted living/nursing home.

Pat

When to take a rest day.

How caregiving is like working out, rest days are important.

April 13, 2022

Why is it okay to take a rest day or two from working out but, it is not okay to take a rest day from care giving or helping your loved one? Think about that. We have the research and the information about listening to our bodies. That rest days are just as important as workout days. That if you cannot mentally concentrate on a lifting day, you are better off skipping that workout. If you push through your chances of injury are greatly increased. Then what? You got it… you will have to take four to six weeks off to heal.

Helping out a loved one is the same kind of thing. Sometimes it is mentally exhausting and sometimes it is physically exhausting. You know that you need a break, but will you take a break? Will you push through? For how long? At what cost to you and your own health?

These are things that all of us need to think about. The problem is that we don’t think about these things. We just jump in and do. That is great, if it is for a short time. The problems arise after we have been helping for a longer period of time. Three to six months is what I consider a longer period of time. At about 18 to 24 months burnout has begun, if you have not gotten help or taken time outs.  

I get it. It is hard when you are in the big middle of things to think about what would be best for all involved. You get in to survival mode and you just do. Some of us don’t want to think about what would be best for us and for out loved one. Thinking is hard and it takes a lot of energy when you are learning new things or doing new things. Remember, you only have about three hours of focused energy per day to use. When are your good hours? When are you able to concentrate and work on detailed projects the best? The rest of the day, you can do the things that do not take as much mental energy or focus.

Developing habits are good for us. They decrease the expenditure of mental energy. Basically, when we have habits, we do them and we do not have to waste any mental energy or focus to think about the “who, what, when, where, why” things. We just do. We have already learned. Some folks call it discipline and others call it a routine.

As with most of us, the most aggravating thing is trying to figure out where to go for dinner. How much time and energy is wasted on this simple act? We ask each other, “Where would you like to go?” The reply is usually, “I don’t care, where do you want to go?” Yes, you know what is coming next. “How about the Roadhouse, you ask?” Wait for it …. The reply is … “I don’t want to go there.” Here comes the hard part … do you say this or just think it? “Obviously, you do care. So, where do you want to go?” The back and forth continues, until finally a place is chosen. How do you feel after this discussion? Tired? A little miffed? Wondering why it is a chore to pick a place to eat? Sometimes, you can give them three options and they still do not like any of them. But, they don’t have any options to give you. Why is that? Sorry about that, I digressed.

How does the rest of your evening go? If both of you can let it go, the evening will probably be okay. If one or both of you do not let it go, then chances are you will not be having pleasant conversation the rest of the evening.

I wonder how much better and easier it would be if one of us said, from the beginning, “I would like to go to the Roadhouse, do you want to go?” The other person can say yes or offer another suggestion. Then the suggestion could be taken or not and they can go or stay at home. Shoot, one person gets to pick this time and next time the other person gets to pick.

We are trying to get a consensus, but sometimes that is not possible. The same thing happens when you are a helper or care giver. You may or may not get a consensus. A “good enough” decision has to be made. NOT perfect. Progress, not perfection is what we are after.

If you do not have habits or routine, try this for two weeks and see how you do and how you feel. Plan your breakfast every day. It does not matter if you eat at home or go and pick something up. Figure out what it will be the night before. Pick out your clothes and shoes the night before. Stick to this routine for two weeks.

Hopefully, you will find that having a routine frees your mental energy for other things. What day or days do you clean the house? Do laundry? Change the sheets? Workout? Run or walk? Schedule them like an appointment, until they become a habit. When they become a habit, the less focused mental energy you will use and will have that energy to do other things. Learning to manage your energy is much more efficient than managing time.

Which of these fits you today?

8 SIGNS YOU NEED A REST DAY

1. YOUR RESTING HEARTRATE IS ELEVATED

2. YOU FEEL TIRED

3. YOU’RE MOODY

4. YOU FEEL SICK

5. YOU’RE ALWAYS SORE

6. YOU’VE HAD A FEW BAD WORKOUTS IN A ROW

7. NOTICE YOU’RE NOT GETTING ANY STRONGER

8. YOU FEEL THAT YOU NEED A REST DAY

From Tough Mudder https://toughmudder.com/blog/no-excuses/signs-need-a-rest-day/

14 Signs you need a rest day from being a helper or care giver

  1. Feeling “trapped” or hopeless
  2. Losing patience or compassion for your loved one
  3. Overreacting to small accidents
  4. Resenting or neglecting your loved one
  5. Withdrawing from your personal hobbies and friendships
  6. Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
  7. Overeating, not eating enough, or eating a lot of high-sugar foods
  8. Having health problems
  9. Abusing drugs or alcohol
  10. Having thoughts of suicide
  11. Making mistakes
  12. You are irritable
  13. Signs and symptoms of depression
  14. You feel exhausted most of the time

I can’t say it any better than Daily Caring has said it in their article.

6 WAYS TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR CAREGIVERS TO TAKE A BREAK

1. Accept that you’ll feel guilty
Guilt is a normal part of caregiving simply because you care – it’s never going to disappear. 

Don’t let this stop you from getting the caregiving help you need.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to maintain your overall health and your ability to provide care.

Besides, how good would you feel if you never took any breaks and your health declined to the point where you could no longer care for your older adult? 

It doesn’t do them any good if you’re not physically or mentally well enough to be their caregiver.

2. Don’t ask your older adult for permission
This isn’t a decision that your older adult gets to make. 

Many older adults refuse outside help because they’re uncomfortable with the idea. 

And someone with dementia doesn’t have the cognitive ability to make a rational decision.

When seniors refuse, they’re not thinking of your needs and are often not considering their own true needs either. 

That’s why you need to make the decision, regardless of how they feel about it.

All that matters is that they’re safe and well cared for when you’re not there.

3. Start before you really need it (if possible)
It may take some time to find the right person to help and for them to learn the caregiving routines. 

That’s why it’s helpful to find help before you really need it.

When you’re putting together a team of family, friends, and volunteers, it can be less stressful if you have some time to get the team in place and work out the details.

To make the transition easier, you could have someone come and shadow you until they learn the ropes and can be left alone with your older adult. 

Or, you could have someone come for a short time in the beginning and gradually increase their time as everyone adjusts to the new situation.

4. Combine paid services with help from friends, family, and volunteers
Hiring caregiving help can be expensive. But even if the cost is high, maintaining or improving your health is worth it.

Being open to different sources of help also lowers the cost of taking regular breaks. 

Ask family or friends for help and seek out local volunteer programs that offer companionship services.

Then supplement those hours with paid help as needed.

5. Check in to know that your older adult is well-cared-for
You might be afraid or nervous to leave your older adult with a stranger or a family member with limited experience. 

To give you greater peace of mind, use simple, discreet ways to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re treating your older adult well.

You could sometimes come back early as a surprise check-in to see what’s been happening. 

Or while you’re out, call occasionally to hear how things are going. 

Another good move is to ask the caregiver to take notes so you’ll know what happened while you were out.

6. Be creative when introducing the hired caregiver
Nobody wants to be told that they’re getting a babysitter. 

If your older adult is very resistant to outside help, be sensitive and creative when introducing them to the household. 

A careful approach is especially important to prevent seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia from reacting with fear or anxiety.

For example, you could introduce the person as your helper around the house and have them help you with meal prep, light housekeeping, and simple care tasks. 

After a few of these visits, it will seem normal that they’re around and it will be easier for you to leave to “run errands.”

You could also position it as doing that person a favor. Perhaps you could say that this person is in need of extra income, so you’re helping them out with a few hours of work here and there.

If family or friends are helping, you could say that they wanted to visit and spend some time catching up. When they become regular visitors, you can start popping out to “run errands.”

By DailyCaring Editorial Team

Pat

What is your resistance costing you?

What happens when things do not go smoothly? What happens when things do not go our way? Stress levels rise.

February 23, 2022

Think about the turmoil in your life. The things that are stressing you out. The things that you are just uncertain about or confused about what to do next. Some of you need to take a few deep breaths right now.

Breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of 5 and exhale through pursed lips of a count of 6. Do this 5 times. Now, you can settle down and focus. You realize that “it” is not happening, right now and you are okay. Why would I want you to be able to focus? Why would I want you to realize that you are okay?

Because things run together. They get intertwined and become a big mess with you in the middle of the situation. You cannot think straight when you are in the big middle of a mess. Most of us do not like messes. We like it when things go smoothly and we especially like it when things go our way.

What happens when things do not go smoothly? What happens when things do not go our way? Stress levels rise. Reactions take priority over a plan. WTF, gets said multiple times. Dammit and shit are said a lot too. You may or may not say them out loud, but you sure are thinking them. It is okay, it can be a stress reliever and give you enough time for your thinking brain to catch up to your reacting brain. I know, friggin’ amygdala.

We have heard the phrase, what we resist, persists. Carl Jung is apparently the one who first stated this principle. Resistance is what stops us from getting things done. We use excuses, justifications, procrastination, perfectionism and even the voice in our head that is telling us that we aren’t good enough or we don’t have enough time. It also tells us other things, but you get the idea. Sometimes, you have to tell that inner critic to shut up.

We have resistance because we are afraid of something. We have resistance because we need to make some kind of change. We do not like change. It is hard and it takes energy to change. Resistance will always rear its ugly head when there is something that will need our energy and attention. We would be better if we learned to “let go” or let things be, just as they are. No judgement allowed. The goal is accepting things, just as they are, right now. If you keep resisting, then all of your focus and energy is going to something that you do not want.

Learn to refocus your energy and focus on what you DO want. You don’t give up. You won’t give up. It is not in your nature. Persistence is a good thing, especially if you are a helper or care giver.

Recognize your resistance triggers and when they will show up. Be curious about them. We all have them. The question becomes, will we give up or will we move forward? Visualize the success in your mind. Set your personal goals. That is all you have control over, anyway. Decide how you will act during a tough time. Maybe, you will need to take 5 – 10 minutes to gather your thoughts and figure out the next best step. No, not the whole plan. Just the next step.

When you find yourself in the middle of a crap storm, look around, take inventory. Is anyone in mortal danger? Is any one about to die? If not, then you have time to take a few minutes to see how best to proceed. I know you want the pain to stop. We all do. That is part of the resistance, we do not like change or the unknown it takes energy and time.

Some signs you may be in a resistant mode:

  1. You procrastinate
  2. You are too busy
  3. You are impatient
  4. You forget things
  5. You are not organized
  6. You feel stuck or paralyzed
  7. You are very impatient
  8. You can’t or won’t make a decision
  9. You find a reason Not to act
  10. You complain a lot
  11. You become defensive
  12. You look for limitations and barriers
  13. You avoid people or change

Antidotes to resistance:

  1. Acceptance of how things are, right now
  2. Observe and acknowledge how you are feeling
  3. Let go of blame or judgement
  4. Move – walk, run, work out, hike
  5. Take the next step forward

You may have to start with accepting that you are not ready to accept what is. We resist because we don’t want to deal with “it.” We are fearful of the outcome. We may know intellectually what the outcome may be, but we are not emotionally ready for the outcome. It won’t go away. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Feeling out of control is another trigger.

Find the lesson. There is always a lesson that we are supposed to learn. A lesson about ourselves. A lesson about our loved ones. A lesson about trust. We do have a choice. We can choose acceptance and move forward. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. Acceptance never means giving up. It means finding new ways to have the best quality of life possible for you and your loved ones.

I am more of a “see where we are and what needs to be done,” kind of care giver. I don’t deny the facts, but I sure won’t give up either. We can no longer do it this way, so what about trying the other way?  Focus on your realistic goals and options. You only have so much energy every day, don’t waste it on things that are not changeable or cannot be changed.

You don’t have to be okay with the “thing” that you are accepting. It doesn’t even mean that you feel good or peaceful about it. It requires courage to face the reality of “what is, right now.” Maybe, the word acknowledging is better than acceptance in some situations. It is okay to hate it and not know what to do. Use a person to be your sounding board so you can work through scenarios. Ask for input or suggestions, realizing that you get to choose to use that information or not.

Are you ready to make some kind of change?

  1. Identify your “want” in the change (not the should)
  2. Give yourself time to prepare for change
  3. Visualize your life during the change and after the change
  4. Prepare for set-backs and moving forward again
  5. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge all of your victories (both large and small)
  6. Create an action plan (Empowering Health Options does this, too)

Pat

Which caregiver role fits you, right now?

January 5, 2022

Which caregiver role fits you, right now?

  1. Hands-on caregiver – you are physically there and you help with their daily needs (i.e., dressing, bathing, toileting, brushing their teeth, meal preparation and feeding).
  2. Companion care – they can do most things on their own and you are there to provide company, keep them engaged with conversation (emotional support) and make some meals as well as medication reminders and light housekeeping. Maybe, take them to an appointment or on errands.
  3. Long-distance caregiving – you probably live an hour or more away, you may be helping with money management, and you may be in charge of making appointments, finding in-home care assistance, and planning for emergencies.
  4. Accidental caregiver – Oh crap, I did not see this coming, right now. I know that I have to help, but I am not sure what I am good at? I will muddle through.
  5. Reluctant caregiver – you may find yourself responsible for someone who has abused you in the past or that you do not get along with. This one is very difficult and it may be best to find help immediately and place yourself in the long-distance caregiving camp.
  6. A Swoop-in, create havoc and swoop on out caregiver – these folks need an ass whipping. They come in every once-in-a-while, state and do whatever they feel like, without regards to the care receiver or the other care givers and get things stirred up and then they leave. Most likely, these folks are just waiting for the care receiver to die so they will not have to be bothered.
  7. Provider of support to the caregiver – Physically and emotionally help the caregiver to excel at being a caregiver. You help the caregiver with the chores or things that need to be taken care of at their house or the house of the care receiver. (Laundry, house cleaning, cooking a meal or two, mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, running errands, etc.)

Some of you have never identified as a caregiver, it is just something that you do. You are helping your mom. You are helping your dad. You are helping your wife. You are helping your husband. You have never viewed it as caregiving, they need help and I will help them. It is that simple.

You never even give it a second thought. That is what family does for each other. I get it, I have been there too. It is what good friends do for each other too. While we don’t identify with the word “caregiver,” that is what we are. A lot of us are the Lone Ranger. We are fine, for a while. We can manage our lives, our jobs, our homes and all of our loved one’s stuff, for a while. Usually, it is about 18 months in and we are stressed out, frustrated, tired and overwhelmed. We look up one day, and wonder how we got here? It happened so slowly and it wasn’t too bad or too hard. But, now, it takes a lot more time and effort to help our loved one.

Our love for them has not changed. Our goals for them have not changed. Our goals for ourselves have not changed. What has changed is our own health. We are tired and we just cannot get rested. Our eating habits are worse, we have gained weight and those stress headaches and lower back pain keep us off of our game. Work is work. It hasn’t slowed down and I am expected to perform at my best every day. I can’t concentrate as well as I used to. I find myself worrying more about my loved one and I can’t remember the last time I had some free time.

What would help you the most in the next three months?

Do you need an easy to use, fill-in-the-blank essential information binder?

The three things it will do for you –

  1. Decrease your stress level
  2. Empower you to be more in control, to make better decisions
  3. Information will be easily accessed when needed

What is included in this Stress Buster, Time Saver, Information Binder:

  1. Banking Information (including retirement information)
  2. Bills – list of and when due
  3. Doctors and other Health care providers list
  4. Documents needed
  5. HIPAA release form
  6. Home information (home, vehicles, rental property)
  7. Income to be received (from Social Security, Retirement, Renters, etc.)
  8. Legal Documents needed
  9. Medical bills and EOB’s (explanation of benefits, with tips and info)
  10. Medical history (incl. diagnoses, surgeries, devices used, etc.)
  11. Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plan (how to check on EOB or MSN for coverages and benefits)
  12. Medications (list of medications, administration check-off list, incl. over-the-counter medications0
  13. Online accounts (User names, Passwords, Answers to security questions)
  14. Tasks to be done sheets

Available as a Binder Kit (with pages in sheet protectors, highlighters, ink pens and a mechanical pencil) 

OR

As a downloadable, fillable PDF file for Single use or Family Use

Use this link for more information and to Order product.

Binder Kit

The next thing that may help you or your loved one is to KNOW whether the medications you are taking are working for you, against you or doing nothing for you. It is a genetic test for medications. You do it once and use the information for the rest of your life. It is a cheek swab. Have your own doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner order the test (they may use a prescription pad), get it to me and we will get you started.

For more information and a list of medications that have a genetic impact, click on this link

Right Med® Test Kit

Scroll down to blue bar that states Right Med Mediation List and click on that link to see the list of medications.

Services offered are listed under the Options tab. Click on link below to access options page.

Options

Option 1 is for an overview and is available to all.

Options 2 and 3 are researched, doable plans of action using best practices and your individual needs as guidelines. You will be heard and understood. These require a conversation and acceptance as they are customized and detailed.

** I won’t waste my time or your money, if these options are not for you. **

Options 2 and 3 are customized for the individual with researching, troubleshooting and support plans for the individual and the family.

The difference in Option 2 and Option 3 – Option 3 includes follow-up for three months instead of one month. With Option 3, updating the support plan is included. I am your guide and will help you to keep moving forward.

My goal with Option 2 or Option 3 is to help you have an understanding of your options, what you may be facing in the future and how to be as prepared as possible. To have the information that you will need to make decisions and choose the best options for you and your family.

Who do you know that could benefit from any of these products or services?

I need your help to get the word out about these products and services. I want to help those that need these things. If I can make their journey less stressful, that is what I want to do. Please pass along this information to those you know. Thank you for your time and effort.

All products and services are available throughout the U.S.

Pat

Wednesday wonderings…When is it time to deal with stuff and when is it time to ignore stuff?

September 8,2021

When to deal with it. When to ignore it. When to fight about it. When to take a break.

You have seen the t-shirts or maybe you have even said something like this …

It’s all fun and games until…Someone loses a weiner. (Feel free to add your own line.)

                                               Someone calls HR.

                                               Someone loses a nut.

Being with and dealing with someone who has a chronic illness such as depression, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or migraines is all fun and games…at first. At first it is easy to do your work job, your house stuff, your play time, school stuff, church stuff, and all kinds of other “stuff.”

Eventually, more is needed of you. Your time, your efforts, your energy. Suck-it-up-buttercup works for a while. Then the demands on your time become draining. Do you take a time out and rest? Do you take a couple of days to recharge? No. You keep doing what you need to do. What you have to do. I get it. You want to be there for them and help them. You do love them and want the best for them. But…

Eventually, there is always a “But…”

Take three minutes and assess where you are in the care giving cycle, what is going on with your work, your family, your responsibilities, your care receiver, your physical needs, your mental needs, your emotional needs?

If you haven’t found your “but,” then either you are new to this or you won’t let yourself think about it. You can compartmentalize and stuff things down, for a while too. You put your job in one box. You put your personal stuff in another box. Another box has your care giver duties in it. Everything has their own nice little box and never are the boxes to leak or burst open and mix with the other boxes. Sure, you have everything under control, until you don’t Shit happens and at the most inopportune time. No matter how secure your box is, there will come a time when you will have to deal with all of it. How do I know? I have done it myself. I pushed things down. Ignored things and people. Yelled at work. Ranted and reaved at home. For minor things. Silly, little things. I didn’t know, at the time, that my boxes were leaking. I didn’t realize that I was very short tempered. I didn’t realize the damage I was doing to my techs who worked with me. I didn’t realize that my boys were becoming scared of me. Imagine how it feels when you do realize all of those things and more. The apologies you have to make. The rebuilding of trust and security for the boys. The knowledge that nothing will ever be the same. Even with forgiveness, no one forgets. I did do better, when I knew better. I wasn’t taking care of my needs. I had to put myself in the mix to rest and recharge to be able to help my dad who was the primary caregiver to my mom.

Should you always deal with a situation when it arises? My personal preference is, yes, deal with it now. If it were only that simple. If it only involved me, it would be simple. It does not just involve me. It involves three other people. Dammit. Now we have to discuss it, think about it, discuss it some more and then there is always someone with an objection.  How about if we, identify the situation as best we can from our own points of view and agree to discuss it at an agreed upon date and time. Did you know that everyone has their own unique point of view? Did you know that a care receiver and a care giver have totally different views at times?  Most folks have no idea what the care receiver wants or needs, they just assume according to their own wants and needs. If you are going to help someone else it is probably a good idea to talk with them to find out the who, what, where, when and why’s of things.

What if we could get away from right or wrong? What if we could be open to the possibility of many different ideas, ways or opportunities? If I can realize that it is not always my way or the highway, then you can too. Give each other the time and good information when there is a major decision to be made.

Some things you do need to ignore. Some things do not need to be handled right now. The things that will not matter in a month, you ignore. The things that will not matter in a year or two, you ignore. The minor household chores that can be delayed, ignore them until another time when you are better equipped to make a decision. Decision fatigue is a real thing. It takes a lot of energy to think and make decisions that are new to you. I know this sounds like management by crises, but it isn’t. You get to choose. Make the best choice possible with the information that you have, right now. It is a gift to be able to make a decision before a crisis hits. A plan of action to implement, when needed, is a lifeline.  Usually, the things to ignore are behavior issues. You may be dealing with an angry aging parent. They may have outbursts. Abusive behavior you cannot ignore. You must take care of yourself. They may refuse to bathe or change their clothes. Ok, so ignore it for a day or two. If they are not in harms way, sometimes you have to let them be. Your family knows your buttons and they know how to push them and they will push them. Can you ignore the button pushing? Can you, let it go? If you can, you will be much happier and much more in control. If you can’t ignore your buttons being pushed, you will get stuck, become even more frustrated and stressed out.

What about fighting? I am not talking about physical fighting, I am talking about arguing, which is fighting in my world.  This one can be tricky. Some families cannot handle fighting in any way, shape or form. They would sooner give up everything than to fight. Other families can have a frank discussion with fighting, work it out and move on with no hard feelings. Others can fuss and fight and have hard feelings for many months, even forever at times.

I wonder what is causing the fighting? Feeling unheard or ignored is a big trigger. Listen to each other first. Use a talking stick. You know, the one holding the stick gets to talk and then when they are finished, they pass it on to another person. STOP figuring out how you will respond. If you are figuring out how to respond, you are not listening. Listen for understanding. Sometimes people may say the wrong words, listen for the understanding and feelings behind the words. You do not have to agree but you do have to agree to disagree. Are you open to the possibility that the choices you must make are for right now? That in a week or two you may make different choices. Sometimes there are no good choices. There are only the choices that you will regret the least making. I wish that I could tell you that all your choices will be logical, but that is not realistic. Are we fighting because we are afraid of making a mistake or a bad choice? Guess what? You will make mistakes. You will make a bad choice. They can be rectified, almost all of the time. When you make a bad choice, do what athletes do, pat your chest twice with your hand and say “my bad.” Then move forward. Stop beating yourself up. Did you do the best that you could with the information you had at the time? If yes, move on.

Instead of fighting what if we worked on one issue at a time and not the lifetime of issues? I understand that some folks cannot find common ground. In that case, place the needs of the care receiver and the hands-on caregiver at the top of the list. You may find that a dictatorship is the best way to proceed.

I am amazed at the folks that do not talk to a relative because of an issue with hurt feelings. I have seen it in my extended family but not my core family. We could always express our opinion, discuss, fuss, fight or whatever we needed to do without fear of being cut out of each other’s lives. You do have to work within the parameters of your family dynamics. We could chase many rabbits on this topic.

When to take a break? Before you are drained would be ideal. You will need physical breaks and mental breaks. There will be times that you are too overwhelmed to make a decision. Too tired or you do not have enough good information to make a decision yet. Take that time out. Agree to take a break if a discussion becomes too intense. Come back in a couple of days or another week. Maybe you are at an impasse. Who will be the ultimate decider?

Chronic stress can kill you. Take a break to rest and recharge.

Key signs you need a break include:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Cynicism about work
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Getting sick more frequently
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Low mood
  • Frustration
  • Feeling unfocused or fuzzy-headed
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
  • Poor performance at work
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or co-workers

What days or times will you be taking time off? Write it down on the calendar. Yes, write it down. What gets written down, gets done. Realize that you will feel uncomfortable doing this. It is okay to feel some discomfort. Do not let that discomfort derail you from much needed time off or time away. You will come back stronger and more able to deal with any issue that may arise. Even an elite athlete needs days off.

Pat

Wednesday Wonderings…Time is of the essence when this information is needed…What is it?

A Current Medications List

Imagine you or someone that you love had an emergency which required a trip to the hospital. When you get there, you will be asked a lot of important questions. One of the most important is a CURRENT Medications List. What are you taking? What strength? How are you taking it? Hopefully, they will also ask you, Why are you taking that?

The “why” is important because sometimes medications are used for off-label or other than their intended indications. For example, Seroquel® (quetiapine) which has indications for Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia, may be used for sleep.

Do you have a current medications list? Where is it? How easily can emergency personnel find it? Have a written or hard copy in your wallet that is updated every 6 months or every time your medications change.

I would also include your over-the-counter medications as well as supplements and herbal products.

Yes, I know. You think that you will remember all of that, but trust me you will not remember everything during a stressful situation. Cortisol will hijack your brain and you will be physiologically unable to recall everything that you are taking for 30 minutes to an hour or longer.

Medication misuse and abuse happens all the time and it causes 1 in 5 Emergency department visits. The most commonly misused medications are Opioids (pain medications), Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (used for tranquilizers, anxiety, sleep) and Stimulants (ADHD medications). These are not the only ones, just the most common.

Misuse

  • Taking a medicine that was prescribed for someone else
  • Taking a larger dose than you are supposed to
  • Taking the medicine in a different way than you are supposed to. This might be crushing tablets and then snorting or injecting them.
  • Using the medicine for another purpose, such as getting high

Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is the use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor. Prescription drug abuse or problematic use includes everything from taking a friend’s prescription painkiller for your backache to snorting or injecting ground-up pills to get high. Drug abuse may become ongoing and compulsive, despite the negative consequences.

When will you write out and place your list in your wallet? Write it on your calendar. What gets written down, gets done.

Pat