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

(Page 2 of 3)

During his first memory care unit experience, my father was involved in an altercation with another resident. As with most of these cases, there were about five sides to the story. In the end, however, it was my father who was discharged from the facility. We all believed, including me, my aunt and the ombudsman I had enlisted for help, that my father had been treated unfairly. In the one or two hours my aunt and I had to make vital decisions about my fatherís immediate care, Iím sure we made a few mistakes and in hindsight, probably would have done things a little differently. However, we did the best we knew how under the circumstances. But that didnít stop a few family members from telling us exactly what we had done wrong. If youíre caring for a caregiver, stop before you offer advice. Remember, chances are the caregiver in your life has never had a dress rehearsal for this role. Theyíre doing the best they can and will ask you if they need your advice.

3. DO GIVE THEM THEIR SPACE Ė Space, the ďvitalĒ frontier. When youíre given the enormous responsibility of caring for someone else, you feel like youíre in a fishbowl. Family members, doctors, bill collectors, you name it are constantly in need of something. Occasionally, I need time and space to recharge my batteries. Whether itís a nap, time with friends, a massage or a weekend away, caregivers need to take the time to care about themselves. When the caregiver in your life says they need a break, donít hesitate Ė pack a suitcase, make reservations for a weekend away, or just follow their lead. Time and space away from the duties and responsibilities of caregiving is essential to avoiding burnout.
4. DONíT GIVE THEM A GUILT TRIP Ė I live in the South and down here, guilt is something we pass down through generations, like broaches and pound cake recipes. Before I became my dadís caregiver, my husband and I spent a lot of free time together. We donít have children, so we had the luxury of spending the weekends hiking, gardening or doing a whole lot of nothing. When my dad was diagnosed with dementia, my home life and much of my work life was sucked away. I had to spend days on end with my dad and family visiting assisted living facilities, meeting with lawyers, and talking to social workers. When I was at home, I was either on the phone talking to my dad, talking about my dad or doing paperwork. My husband quickly felt abandoned. He got in the habit of making me feel guilty any time I spent attending to my dadís needs. I explained that this only made my highly stressful situation worse and it only made me resent him. He eventually came to understand that this was my choice and the only way for us to be a functional, happy family was for him to support me. Again, the tough parts are only temporary and itís a lot easier if you support the caregiver in your life.


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