Most Caregivers are filled with the pent-up frustration of being a Caregiver. For a brief look at typical frustrations, and learning to cope with them, read on below.
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The daily regimen of a Caregiver is most certainly fraught with nagging-never-go-away-issues. From the moment a Caregiver awakes, the first thoughts are always “Is my loved one O.K? What is my loved one doing? Is he/she awake or still asleep? Do they need me now? Did I oversleep? What have I forgotten to do for her/him already? What is on the schedule for today?”
All of the above thoughts race through their brain before the typical Caregiver thinks about himself/herself.
These thoughts are built in, permanent, wedged in their psyche so deeply that they probably cannot remember ever thinking otherwise.*
The funny thing is, those thoughts listed above are not the most challenging part of the day. They are the routine thoughts, the ones for which an auto-response is also built-in to the psyche of the Caregiver over time.
The real challenges are the frustrations brought on by unforeseen events such as unexpected needs, comments, or attitudes of the person for whom they take care of daily.
Here are two atypical occurrences that can trip up a Caregiver’s ritual and tip it into a realm of frustration that defies the scope of normal trials. They may seem like simple occurrences to someone who does not live under the dark umbrella of being a Caregiver. However, to the already overwhelmed Caregiver, an entirely new skill set must be developed to grapple with the atypical occurrences.
- Yesterday, the Survivor accidently spilled their mealtime beverage all over the table and themselves. Since it was ice-filled, it landed in their lap – the surprise of freezing ice cubes cannot be reacted to by quickly moving away or pushing the cold away with paralyzed arms or legs. Their reaction time is not only diminished due to their condition, but their inability to protect themselves from the sudden chilling cold in their lap causes them to scream. The scream portends their vulnerability. This scream also creates a “fearful frustration” reaction by the Caregiver. Ever on edge, the Caregiver leaps into action to provide triage and correction to the accident.
- Today is a visit to the medical lab where the loved one will have a simple blood test to check on bodily functions prior to next week’s physical exam. The loved one is awake and angry because they must be “fasting” for the blood work. It is difficult for everyone to function without morning nourishment. But for a Survivor of stroke, TBI, or existing with any long term illness, the resulting low blood sugar of fasting can turn a damaged brain into a miniature time bomb of expletives, uncooperative behavior, and fear. They lash out at the Caregiver. Then the Caregiver’s frustration rises because they have to deal with the issue of coercing behavioral compliance regarding bathing, getting dressed, and getting into the car to go to the lab. Excruciating frustration for the Caregiver!
- The list goes on. Every Caregiver has millions of these agonizing frustration-provoking events.
Long past the time of the continuing frustrations for the Caregiver, the built-up mental anguish becomes damaging to the psyche of the Caregiver. Long past the momentary relief of finding yet another solution to a frustrating occurrence, the Caregiver overlooks the snowball effect of the brain damage to their own countenance. Over time, this ongoing frustration slowly chips away at the Caregiver’s ability to repair their own psyche. The Caregiver seeks alternative methods to assuage their pain.
For one quick answer on how a Caregiver can help oneself repair and revitalize, the most important tool is “self-forgiveness.” Simply say “I forgive myself for judging myself as bad/a poor Caregiver” or any other negative self-deprecating commentary. Say it aloud until it becomes believable and relaxation fills the soul.
Another method to assist in relieving Caregiver frustration is found in the Affirmation below. During a 5 minute break in your day, memorize it and then close your eyes and quietly repeat this Affirmation to yourself. I recommend saying it 100 times daily for 30 days. That is one accepted method for creating personal behavior change.
Additional tools on preserving sanity for Caregivers can be found on my website specifically for Caregiver support at nancyweckwerth.com/caregiverClass.html. If you live in the North Georgia section of the United States, sign up for the upcoming “Caregivers Unite” support group in my home sanctuary. If you live elsewhere and want to learn, keep watching the website as it grows. All Caregiver survival tools learned in the Caregiver Unite support group will be posted on the site in written and podcast form.
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© 2018 Nancy Weckwerth