Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A new resource, and a great help!

Another important resource I've found is Janice Wallace's Caring For Caregivers site and her Understanding Dementia site. Janice is The Eldercare Coach, and she's created a wealth of valuable information for caregivers. Below, I've included one small excerpt from her January newsletter. It was a good heads-up and reminder to me of foundational caregiving attitudes and issues. Reading them prompted me to review and adjust some of my approaches, so thank you, Janice. I needed to think of these things.

I hope you are encouraged and find these sites to be a help in your situation. I'd love to hear what you think, so let me know what you know!

Caregiver at Home

Here's Janice's article:

Pace Yourself!
Nothing like the flu to make me consider our common humanity. As I stretched like a wet noodle the length of my couch, I thought about my plans for the week and knew I had to let go. What was right in that moment and for the next few days was to rest, get better and not spread my germs to others.

I'm a great one for imagining that I'm the boss of everything. The great lesson of an illness whether it's your own or that of a family member is the reminder of what exactly you are and are not the boss of.

You are not the boss of the person you are caring for. I know considering that you may be making all sorts of decisions and taking care of all sorts of tasks that you may seem like the boss of the person you are taking care of. There may be times when you have to override the wishes of your family member to make sure that he is safe. Even with all that said, your family member, at the heart of things, drives your decision making. In your busyness remember that the essence of your family member's values and beliefs should govern the decisions you make and the actions you take on her behalf.

You are not the boss of your caregiving situation. Now I'm not saying this to take away your power. There is a lot that you are the boss of that I will get to in the next paragraphs yet there is a lot about your situation that you cannot control. Illness or aging has taken center stage in your family member's life and your life. It's important to ask yourself regularly what you are trying to control. I've seen caregivers break their hearts trying to control the course of a serious illness and even stop death.

Ok now let's talk about what you are the boss of.

You are the boss of your feelings. You can choose the feelings and how you react to what is happening around you. Do your best to put a gap between your reaction and a difficult situation. That small gap may be all you need to take a new attitude toward what is happening right now. At those time when you find yourself stuck in a negative loop of feeling, pause and shift consciously to a slightly better feeling. It takes time and practice to stay in tune with your feelings and shift gears. Over time you will feel the benefits.

You are the boss of your commitments and schedule. This may be the most controversial thing I'm saying in this newsletter. With the multiple demands and needs of the person you are caring for, your other family responsibilities, your career and more, you don't have much choice or time in your schedule. To gain more flexibility, be thoughtful about what you say yes to. Find ways to leverage yourself by carefully considering what requires your personal attention and what you can delegate to someone else. Do your upmost to stay organized and maintain proper records when caring for your relative so you do not waste time looking for information. Most importantly ask for help early and often.

Will you join me in taking a step down from the boss of everything? By looking more clearly at what you and cannot control, you give yourself more control and more power in a difficult situation.

For more information, contact:
Janice Wallace, the Eldercare Coach
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist
Phone: 415-661-3271
Caring for an ailing family member?
Supporting a relative with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia?

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