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7 Essential Doís and Doníts for People Caring for Caregivers
By Lisa Lopez

(Page 1 of 3)

One year ago, my father was diagnosed with WernickeĖKorsakoff syndrome, a form of dementia resulting from chronic alcohol abuse. My dad, who worked hard his entire life, raised a family and built a strong reputation in his community, spent the last 10 years of his life succumbing to this terrible disease that befalls so many.  After the official dementia diagnosis, I was appointed his guardian and my family and I made the excruciating decision to place him in an assisted living facility. This past year, Iíve experienced everything from anger to guilt, from optimism to despair.

Since becoming one of my dadís caregivers, the people Iíve leaned on the most are my friends. Somehow, my friends just get it. I donít need to tell them what questions to ask, when to ask them or when to leave me alone. In the beginning, however, my husband and some other close family members had to be reminded how to react to the very fragile and stressed side of me. I am happy to report that after a few meetings of the mind and heart, my own circle of caregivers, including husband and family, is right on track. I decided to write this article to provide some tips to the wonderful people who are caring for caregivers.

The Doís and Doníts:

1. DO LISTEN - It may seem like a simple concept; but for some people, the idea of listening can be a hard job. Once, early on in my dadís journey, I returned home from one of the worst days of my life. The day involved a neurologist, an escape attempt by my father and a deputy sheriff. You get the picture.  

When I walked into my house that evening, I was distraught and grief-stricken. My poor husband had no idea how to react to me.  When I tried to describe the day, his response was, ďWell, youíre home now. Donít worry about it.Ē He then proceeded to watch TV. After a little yelling and a lot of crying on my part, we came to an understanding. A word of advice to those caring for caregivers:  when your loved one is stressed or wants to talk about their day, just listen. Stop what youíre doing and give them your full attention. You donít even have to speak. A hug every once in a while wouldnít hurt either!

2. DONíT OFFER UNSOLICITED ADVICE ĖThis is another toughie for the folks who love and care about caregivers. Itís hard because you hate to see your loved one in pain. Each time the caregiver in your life comes to you with another problem or unpleasant situation, you try to fix it. Itís very common and well-intentioned. In my case, a few family members were very eager to give unsolicited advice.


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