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Posted: December 28, 2006

Spousal Caregiving

Planning Your Caregiving Strategy for 2007

Bill Andrew

In previous New Year's columns, I proposed a number of strategies for making your New Year's resolutions. In Making -- and Keeping -- Your New Year's Caregiving Resolutions, I proposed 10 tips for keeping New Year's resolutions. I also listed my personal resolutions for 2005. In 10 Tips for Making Your Caregiving New Year's Resolutions, I once again proposed 10 tips for keeping New Year's resolutions and listed my personal resolutions for 2006. By and large, I was able to keep these resolutions using the tips provided. I would urge you to visit -- or revisit -- those two columns as you consider making New Year's caregiving resolutions for 2007.

Rather than rehashing the above, I thought that this year I would address some suggestions for taking care of yourself during 2007. In effect, these suggestions can be used to plan your spousal caregiving strategy for 2007. I also recommend that you embed these suggestions in your 2007 New Year's resolutions using the 10 tips provided in the previous columns.

As spousal caregivers, many of us are on duty 24 hours each day, 7 days each week, taking care of our loved one. The stress and strain of providing this level of care can be very burdensome, especially if you have health and medical needs of your own. Therefore, it is very important that you take care of yourself -- getting enough rest and sleep, taking a break from your daily routine, taking some time off for yourself, and having available respite care when you need it.

If you are like many other caregivers, you probably do not take good enough care of yourself and end up exhausted, depressed, and perhaps even physically disabled. Consequently, you become a less effective spousal caregiver -- and may end up needing care yourself. The bottom line: taking care of yourself means that you will be a better caregiver for your loved one.

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider. Some are from my own personal experience and others from materials at my disposal:

Don't be a martyr. You may consider yourself to be a very competent caregiver -- I know that I do personally. However, you can’t do everything by yourself; I learned that the hard way. If you are still trying to do everything by yourself, reconsider now! You are not doing yourself or your spouse any good if you are constantly impatient, tired, angry, and feel alone. The sooner that you get help, the better caregiver you will be.

Have a backup plan in place. Perhaps that backup can be a family member or close friend who can help you on a regular basis. Or perhaps your church provides such services. How about your neighbors? While this is often easier said than done, it is critical to both your health and that of your loved one. Even once or twice a week for several hours would benefit you personally.

Check out the local elderly and welfare service agencies in your community. Your city, county, or state may have such services available to meet your needs. The Area Agency on Aging funds such services, so contact them online or via toll free phone at 800-677-1116. You may qualify for low-cost or free services that provide companion care and homemaker services.

Check into the availability of adult day care. Many communities offer free or low-cost adult day care programs for elderly who are able to leave their own homes. They may even provide transport to the facility where trained staff will provide activities appropriate for your loved one. Usually, snacks and at least lunch are provided as well. You may want to consider various options that are usually available such as half day, full days, one or two days a week, or five days a week. This is an ideal way for spousal caregivers to continue working or to get away by themselves for a while.

Check into the availability of respite care. Respite care can be defined as temporary relief for caregivers and their families who are caring for those with disabilities, chronic illness, or terminal illness, as well as the elderly who can not be left alone. Again, check with the local Area Agency on Agingor your local elderly services or welfare services agency for availability in your area.

The above suggestions can be incorporated with the New Year’s resolutions referenced above. If you have not made those resolutions as of yet, why not consider the above as a "starter set" that you can build on, especially if you have not considered these suggestions to help you help your loved one. Help is available to you as a spousal caregiver; you just have to know where and how to ask for it.

Perhaps you have additional suggestions for readers of this column. Perhaps you have benefited from the above suggestions. If so, drop me a line at ASKBill@caregivershome.com and I will share your thoughts in a future column.

Wishing you and yours a Blessed and Happy New Year. May God continue to bless you and yours on your spousal caregiving journey.

WORDS TO CARE BY . . .

"We will continue to fulfill the vows we have made. . .

keep your vows, carry out your resolutions."

(Jeremiah 44:25)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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© 2006 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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