Tag Archives: caregiver

Helping Caregivers Care

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The world of a caregiver can be lonely. While the tasks and experiences of caregiving may be similar in nature, surprisingly they are not what unites family caregivers. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, the common bond of caregiving is the emotional impact. Those caring for others often feel lonely, isolated, and unacknowledged for all their work and sacrifice. They can experience anger and resentment toward family members and others who carry on as usual, while they of necessity give up much of their normal life. They grieve the losses in their own lives as well as the loss of the person their care-receiver once was as they watch him or her decline. They often experience depression, sadness, pain, the need for normalcy and regret for what they might have done had circumstances been different. They also may feel guilty because they sometimes wish it were over.

Caregivers can find comfort in learning that such feelings are perfectly normal and in finding ways to copy with them in support groups. They can also find hope in the possibility of connecting on a deep level with their care-receiver and creating closer bonds with family members. In fact, discovering positive meaning in the tasks of caregiving is crucial for the emotional health of everyone involved. The entire caregiving family must honor the caregiver and acknowledge their importance in the scheme of things.caregiver team

The Caregivers Bill of Rights below will help caregivers understand that their feelings are normal. It will help them verbalize what they need to the rest of the family and empower them to see their value. Post it where everyone can see it and honor its message.

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights

  1. I have the right to be told and relay the truth to the immediate family.
  2. I have the right to be upset when I receive bad news about my care-receiver.caregiver sad
  3. I have the right to talk about my care-receiver’s illness when appropriate, or not.
  4. I have the right to give constructive feedback, in a calm assertive way to a medical professional or establishment that is caring for my care-receiver.
  5. I have the right to disagree with my care-receiver, even though he or she is ill.
  6. I have the right to not accept any attempt by my care-receiver (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger or depression.
  7. I have the right to engage outside help even though my care-receiver would prefer only me.
  8. I have the right to look after my own needs as well as my care-receiver’s needs. This is not an act of selfishness. It will increase my ability to care for him or her.
  9. I have the right to enjoy my good health and do what it takes to keep it that way.elderly woman doing yoga
  10. I have the right to recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
  11. I have the right to get help for myself when and if I need it.
  12. I have the right to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance from my care-receiver, when he or she is capable, providing I offer the same qualities.
  13. I have the right to be free of verbal, emotional or physical abuse from my care-receiver or my care-receiver’s family.caregiver crying
  14. I have the right to feel what I feel, when I feel it.
  15. I have the right to cry.
  16. I have the right to be angry and depressed and to express difficult feelings occasionally.
  17. I have the right to feel frustrated and/or angry andcaregiver angry without feelings of guilt.
  18. I have the right to seek humor in difficult situations.
  19. I have the right to do some things just for myself.
  20. I have the right to protect my individuality and make a life for myself that will sustain me for the time when my care-receiver no longer needs my full-time help.
  21. I have the right to long for normalcy.caregivers pair

The article above was taken from The Complete Caregiver Support Guide by Ester R. A. Leutenberg and Carroll Morris with Kathy Khalsa. Click on the book to see details.

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Care for the Caregiver

The presenter got my attention right off, “I’ve given up on motivating caregivers to care for them-selves.  Even when that cancer or heart attack occurs, the majority of caregivers are still impervious to such talks!”

“Wow, I thought, this is an interesting approach!” I leaned back in my chair…looking forward to the dance. I like the dance. I get to use all my best strategies and tactics to avoid facing my issues: I’m attentive, ask good questions, smile, nod, participate, share a personal story or two, fill out the work sheets, do the silly exercises (that seems to impress some presenters), write down the requisite social supports that give the impression I am sincerely interested in making lasting and permanent change and otherwise look for things to include in my next presentation. Then I go back to my old bad habits: working and eating too much, exercising and sleeping too little. You know the drill.

I listened as she went through the usual litany: good nutrition, good exercise, good sleep and a healthy spirituality (usually with a huge dose of mindfulness these days). And after the presentation was over I went for the coup de grace’.

I stood in line and asked her to sign her book. She scrutinized me and asked my name. “John”, I said. Her eyes bored through me like a diamond drill. She quickly scribbled a sentence inside the cover and then flipped the book over for me to read what she had written.  “Read it out loud,” she commanded.

I read, “John is your name and compliance is your game” signed Dr. Molly K

Then Ms. Smiley Face leaned forward and whispered way too loud, “You can’t fool me. I’ve got your number.  I’ve given up on giving care for the caregiver talks to the likes of you. I know you, and I eat your kind for breakfast. When it comes to self-care you are totally helpless, hopeless…pathetic.  It will never happen.”

“Wow”, I thought, “she is good!”

She kept the momentum, “ You get to choose one of only two options. You know about old school spiritual direction…obedience and all that.

“Oh no”,  I thought, but deftly parried by nodding compliantly. (but she had me on my heels and she knew it) She had seen through my non-verbals and before I could strike back she barked.

“No…I’m making the choice for you,” I literally jumped backwards! “It’s caregiver boot camp for you.”

I hadn’t heard about caregiver boot camp before, but it sounded kind of fun.

“Not fun!” she snapped, verbally jerking me back to reality and lifting me off the floor by the scruff of the neck at the same time.

“Not fun?” I queried in a strangely pleading voice.

Welcome Them Home, Help Them HealJohn Sippola, MDiv, has served as a parish pastor for 20 years and as a hospital chaplain for 15 years. A LTC Retired from the Minnesota Army National Guard, John served as the Family Assistance Center chaplain in Duluth, MN during the first Persian Gulf War. During that time, he helped facilitate a support group for spouses and parents, and co-led a support group for the children of deployed service members. As a hospital chaplain, he worked extensively with veterans in chemical dependency and mental health settings. From 1997-2000 John served as the Family Assistance Chaplain for the State of Minnesota. John is convinced that churches have a strategic role in promoting relational and spiritual wellbeing of returning veterans and their families. John is currently pastor of Elim Lutheran Church of Blackhoof in Barnum, Minnesota.