Caregiving can be difficult. It may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done—or ever will do.
The person you’re caring for is probably frustrated or in pain or having difficulty thinking. While you know in your head it’s likely from her disease, it still hurts. Knowing doesn’t make it any easier dealing with her when she’s angry or negative or just upset.
And it can increase your caregiver stress. Maybe you’re feeling like you always have to say, “No.” Or maybe you’re dealing with someone who seems to always say, “No.”
Either way can be stressful as Margaret’s family caregivers learned…
Her family sought medical advice to see if she had an underlying physical condition or pain causing discomfort she could not express. Or did she need a change in her medications or their dosage?
Which was a good idea. In Margaret’s case, no physical cause for her complaints was found. Instead of getting frustrated, they decided to deal with it another way. They worked at increasing the positive responses and options they gave Margaret, hoping she would respond in kind.
It took time and patience on their part.
What are three ways to change “no” into “yes?”
1. Respect her. An adult usually wants to be treated as an adult—even when she acts like a child. This can be difficult. And takes practice.
One way can be to involve her in decisions whenever possible. Are you having trouble with her at meal times? Are you asking what she wants to eat, or if she’d like to help plan the meals? If that’s not possible, maybe she can help you prepare meals. Even if it’s just sitting and talking, watching while you work.
2. Focus on staying positive. It’s okay to disagree. Rarely do any two people agree on everything. Disagreements don’t mean you stop loving or caring for someone, though.
So what can you find positive when you’re dealing with constant complaints?
Well, how about the moments of no complaints? Or of silence?
Can you be grateful you can still take care of her—complaints and all?
3. Whenever possible look through her perspective, and find an alternative you both like. This way no one is “right” and no one is “wrong.” Being made to feel as if you’re wrong all the time is hard on you. And it’s just as hard on your care recipient.
It’s probably easier for you to put yourself in her shoes than the other way around. Why? She may no longer be able to do that from pain or disease.
And you need regular breaks. Daily breaks. If caregiver stress is particularly challenging, you may think you need breaks much more often than once daily. And probably do.
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To your healthy caregiving,
Ina Gilmore M.D. (ret.)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Ambassador of Elder Care, www.HowToLiveOnPurpose.com
Founder, www.CaregivingWithPurpose.com and www.TheKnittingYarn.com
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not replace information or recommendations from your own physician or other health care provider. Full Disclaimer and Disclosure.