Tags: caregiver | survival | strategies

Caregiver Survival Guide: 5 Tips for Coping With Loved One's Illness

Caregiver Survival Guide: 5 Tips for Coping With Loved One's Illness
(Copyright Fotolia)

By    |   Sunday, 26 June 2016 03:29 PM

Caring for a sick or disabled spouse, child, or parent is not only hard work, but can also put caregivers at risk for serious health problems of their own. New research shows:
  • Husbands and wives who care for an ailing spouse have a 95 percent higher risk of stroke compared to non-caregivers because of greater physical and mental strains, according to a recent study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  • Women tend to face greater challenges than men when looking after an ailing loved one and are particularly vulnerable to stress-related depression and physical problems, according to a recent analysis by the University of Missouri.
  • Relatives and friends who support or care to people with dementia often must tap their retirement savings, cut back on spending, and sell assets to pay for expenses tied to the disease — with about one in five going hungry because they don’t have enough money — a recent Alzheimer's Association survey found.
Joan Swirsky — a registered nurse specialist and New York-certified psychotherapist, knows these realities all too well. In a new book, “The Caregiver’s Survival Guide,” she lays out key coping strategies for individuals providing support for relatives and friends.

The is a practical how-to guide for people who are taking care of elderly parents and ailing spouses, disabled children, vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, and partners in the LGBT community who face daunting legal, financial, and psychological hurdles if they are not married.
A primary message of the book: Caregivers must take care of themselves, too.

“Before you were called upon to care for your child, spouse, partner or parent, you had a life — no doubt a vital life of relationships, activity, and interests,” she tells Newsmax Health. “While the caregiving role may demand that you ‘cut back’ to some degree, don’t let it force you to ‘cut out’ the things you love.”

Swirsky says she was driven to write the book — her 12th — to provide a practical roadmap to the legal, financial, mental, and physical challenges that millions of Americans face in caring for a sick or disabled loved one.

“[It] is a daunting job that few people are prepared or equipped for, but that millions of people are called upon to do, often while they’re in the middle of living their own busy and complicated lives,” she explains.

Swirsky says “The Caregiver’s Survival Guide” is informed by her personal and professional experiences — as the mother of a disabled child, a nurse, a health-and-science writer, and a practicing psychotherapist.

Here are her top five recommendations for caregivers to help them cope and manage the challenges they may face:
Get organized. Buy a file box or create a computer file with folders that include a “plan of action” (how you plan to take the best possible care of your relative); key contacts (doctors, lawyers, accountants, family members, and friends, with phone, fax, and e-mail info); and information on all medications, dosages, and dates of prescription, your loved one is taking.

“Caregiving is endlessly complicated and demanding, so the more you organize, the less overwhelmed you will feel,” Swirsky notes.

Consult other caregivers. Talk to people you know who have been caregivers themselves. Ask how they dealt with their own challenges. Often, they have helpful hints about how they managed their own struggles.

“While the expertise of doctors and other medical professionals is invaluable, there is nothing quite like the advice and tips and coping strategies you receive from people who have ‘been there/done that,’ ” she explains. “And don’t limit your questions to friends. Ask the guy behind the deli counter, your manicurist, waitress, or handyman. And don’t hesitate to seek the wisdom of your clergy person.”

Accept your anger –– it’s normal.
“Caregiving is often a thankless task because the gratitude you expect, even in a simple thank-you, is often not forthcoming,” Swirsky notes. “Whether you are caring for a compromised child, a heroic but gravely injured veteran, a once-loving spouse now felled by a stroke, or a parent you cherish, the conditions they suffer from can make them oblivious to your loving care.

“To cope, you can commiserate with friends, laugh about it over drinks, or see a psychotherapist for a few visits to learn how to use your anger creatively instead of letting it eat you up.”

Address depression you may experience. Most caregivers say it’s unbearably sad to see the people they love most in the world in a state of disability or decline, so depression is a very common experience. But there’s no need to suffer in silence; in fact, withdrawing and letting depression fester can make it worse.

“The best coping strategy is talk to people who have been there or to ventilate to a therapist who ‘gets’ the nature of the caregiving role,” she says.

Don’t sacrifice your own life. Caregivers face the risk of becoming lost in their role of providing support to a loved one — making their lives only about providing care and setting aside their own health and well-being. But it’s important to maintain a vital life outside of that caregiving role — involving friends, relatives, hobbies, activities, interests, career pursuits, and other elements of life that are important to you.

Make time for yourself by getting professional help or asking a friend or family member to lend a hand, Swirsky says.

“Ask people to help you with the caregiving tasks or get a ‘babysitter’ who allows you to continue your own life,” she advises. “If you are satisfied, the person you’re caring for will be satisfied. Simple as that.”

For more information: http://canadafreepress.com/article/the-caregivers-survival-guide

© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Caring for a sick or disabled spouse, child, or parent can put caregivers at risk for serious health problems of their own. But a new book provides useful strategies to cope with the legal, financial, mental, and physical challenges that millions of American caregivers face.
caregiver, survival, strategies
Sunday, 26 June 2016 03:29 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
Newsmax TV Live

The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read Newsmax Terms and Conditions of Service.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved