The magazine Caring Today offers advise and resource suggestions for caregivers of those with chronic illness. The November/December 2008 issue has these practical yet important tips, using the author’s experience with her husband Gary who has dementia:
- Go With the Flow: Rather than become frustrated with behaviors that are slightly exaggerated, try to find a way to re-define the behavior as helpful or positive, even if unusual.
- Appreciate the Small Stuff: Try to recognize the person’s contribution to your life or to the household, no matter how slight, and take pleasure in their own feelings of inclusion and participation.
- Get Plugged-in: Having accurate information about the illness you are witnessing as well as the available professional and community resources will relieve your stress and anxiety, and help you to be a better helper.
- Find Helping Hands: You cannot and should try to handle all situations all by yourself. Develop a team of supporters, perhaps both paid and volunteer, to give you respite and to take on particular tasks.
- Share Your Challenges and Successes With Others: Sharing both helps others just beginning to learn how to be a care-takers, and makes it possible for you to learn from those who have discovered resources you don’t know about. It creates a learning environment for everyone. This network can also provide emotional support during crises or periods of discouragement.
- Endure: It’s important to realize and accept that you, along with the diagnosed person, will probably have to live through some trying times. The distress and heartache of witnessing the deterioration of a loved one may sometimes seem impossible to endure, yet, as the author says so poignantly, “Quitting is not an option.” Taking good care of yourself, because you deserve it and need it, will enhance your capacity to endure.
You can find more of the above at www.caringtoday.com