The holidays can be a difficult time for family caregivers.
When you are the primary caregiver for a loved one, it can be easy to forget about taking care of yourself.
This holiday season, make sure you take the time to practice self-care and reduce your stress levels. This is Part 2 of a two-part blog post to help you do just that – to prepare a strategy to reduce your holiday sress.
Part 1. In the last post, Part 1, I focused on Steps 1 and 2. Step 1 - the five caregiver roles and Step 2 - identifying which role challenges you most.
I called attention to how important it is for you to know the five roles that make up your scope of responsibilities. After that, you identify which role you're struggling with most right now so you can better manage your time, energy and resources.
Part 2. In this post, Part 2, I will discuss Steps 3 through 5. In Step 3 you visualize your best caregiving life where you give your best care for your loved one in way that’s sustainable for you. It’s much easier to reach your destination – and explain it to others - if you know where you want to go. Having a clear idea of the results you seek enables you to effectively communicate those results to your loved one’s doctor and medical team.
Once you have this vision, Step 4 has you identify the barriers that stand in your way, and in Step 5 you enlist the help of your loved one’s doctor to help you overcome them.
Before we get started
Let me emphasize again: If you are already experiencing these problems, seek help NOW.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish—it is essential to being able to care for your loved one in a sustainable way.
It’s about effective communication
It can be difficult to put into words what you need from your loved one’s doctor when it comes to your loved one’s care. You want to be sure that you’re communicating effectively and that the doctor understands the situation. But do you struggle to find the right words?
Is this your experience?
Sometimes I feel like I’m just guessing at what might be wrong, and I’m worried that I’m not giving the doctor enough information. I also feel overwhelmed by all of the responsibility for my loved one’s care, and I sometimes feel like I’m not doing a good job. But most of all, I fear that something will happen to my loved one and I won’t be able to handle it.
When the doctor truly understands what you need, it feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You know that you can communicate with them openly and honestly, and that they will be able to help you navigate through this difficult time. You no longer have to worry about trying to communicate in a way that they will understand, or about feeling like you're being judged. You can simply focus on making sure that your loved one receives the best possible care.
Let's repeat these five steps of your holiday stress-reduction strategy:
5 steps To Help Your Loved One's Doctor Lower Your Stress
In the previous post, I covered Steps 1 and 2. So, picking up where we left off.
Step 3. Visualize your best caregiving life and what would make a good day today
When everything is going well, I feel like a superhero. I can juggle my responsibilities and care for my loved one with ease. I feel like I’m in control and that I can handle anything. I’m able to provide my loved one with the best possible care and make sure that they’re happy and comfortable.
I know that things can change in an instant, but it’s nice to have a moment where everything feels okay. It’s a relief to know that I’m capable of taking care of myself and my loved one. I feel like I can do anything when things are going well.
As you visualize your best life, first visualize how your life would look in each of your caregiver roles. Here they are again:
Next, focus on the one role that you chose as most troublesome for you and your loved one.
Role 1: Assisting with loved one’s activities of daily living
I need the doctor to help me with a solution to my grandmother’s getting up every hour in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. It’s really hard to see my grandmother struggling like this. She’s not able to take care of herself. I know that it’s not normal, and I’m worried that she might have an infection. I’ve tried reaching out to the doctor’s office, but I haven’t been able to get through. I’m starting to get really worried, and I don’t want to delay the appointment any longer.
Role 3: Performing Medical Tasks:
I felt confident that I could change my grandmother’s surgical dressings after getting enough instruction and training. I knew that it was important for me to be able to do this so that I could help her recover quickly. I was glad that I had received the training, and that I was able to put it into practice when she needed me.
Role 4: Managing and Coordinating mother’s Care:
When I can easily reach mother’s doctor and medical team, I feel relieved. I know that if there is a problem or if she needs something, I can easily get in touch with her doctor, and they will be able to help her. I don’t have to worry about her health, and I know that she’s in good hands.
When my grandmother’s activities of daily living are taken care of, it allows me to have some time for myself. I can go to the grocery store or go for a walk without having to worry about him. I know that he’s in good hands and that he’s being taken care of.
It’s really nice to have a break from constantly taking care of him. It’s also nice to know that he’s in good hands and that I can trust the person who is taking care of him. I feel like I can relax a little and take a breath. It’s a relief.
Step 4. Name the barriers that keep you from having a good day.
Role 3: Performing Medical Tasks:
I was really scared when my grandmother was sent home after her surgery. I was responsible for her surgical dressings, and I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know how to change the dressings or how often I needed to change them. I was worried that I would do something wrong and that my mother would get an infection.
I called the hospital, and they gave me some instructions, but it was still really hard to know what to do. I felt like I was constantly guessing, and I was afraid that I was going to make a mistake. It was really stressful, and I didn’t feel like I could take care of my mother by myself.
When my grandfather doesn’t take his medicines, I feel like I’m not doing my job right, and that I’m not able to take care of him properly. I know that it’s important for him to take them, but he doesn’t always want to. It’s really frustrating, and I don’t know what to do about it. He just won’t listen to me. I’ve tried everything that I can think of, but nothing seems to work.
Role 4: Managing and Coordinating mother’s Care:
It’s been really hard to reach the right person on my doctor’s team to reschedule the CT scan appointment. I’ve been trying to call for the past two days, but I haven’t been able to get through. I’m starting to get really worried, because I don’t want to delay the appointment any longer. I need to make sure that my mother gets the care that she needs._
I’ve tried emailing, but I haven’t received a response yet. I’m not sure what else to do. I feel like I’m going crazy because I can’t get in touch with anyone. This is really stressing me out, and I don’t know how much longer I can take it.
Step 5. Enlist your loved one's doctor's help to reduce your stress.
The more specific you can be when communicating your needs to your loved one’s doctor, the better they can help. Let them know what you are struggling with. Be sure to communicate any specific concerns you are having and let the doctor know what you would like to see as a treatment plan. This open communication will help ensure that your loved one gets the best possible care.
When the doctor understands what you need, the less stress you will have. This is because you will have a clear idea of what you need to do to help your loved one, and you can work with the doctor to create a treatment plan that meets their specific needs.
The more clear and specific you are about what you hope to achieve through your loved one’s plan of care, about what you need for your caregiving life to actually work for you while you provide he best care for your loved one, and the current barriers to achieving that life, the more the doctor can help you and your loved one.
You and the doctor - and your loved one, to the best of their ability to participate in the decision making - collaborate together on creating the plan. This working together makes such a plan more likely to succeed and to accomplish its intended purpose.
Good things happen when you and your loved one's doctor can work together
Here are some benefits that everyone gains:
- Your loved one: Your loved one gets to live their best possible life to their end and leave a legacy of courage and hope.
- You: You get to live your caregiver life with fulfilled purpose, doing a tough job well and making the hard choices and decisions, and taking good care of yourself which makes you able take good care of your loved one.
- Your loved one’s doctor: Your loved one’s doctor gets to have a sense of fulfilled purpose, the knowledge that they did their job well, and that their efforts were healing, helpful and not wasteful. This is probably why they became a doctor in the first place. That was certainly true for me.
Collaborating with the doctor reduces holiday stress in several ways
Collaborating with your loved one’s doctor in creating the treatment plan can help reduce your holiday stress in several ways. First, by understanding your loved one’s needs and creating a specific treatment plan, the doctor can help reduce your stress by providing support and guidance. Secondly, by working together to create a plan, you can feel confident that you are doing everything possible to help your loved one. Finally, knowing that your loved one is receiving the best possible care will encourage you this holiday season.
The holiday season can be a difficult time for family caregivers. With the added stress, it can be hard to take care of yourself and your loved one. But with the right support, you can get through it.
Reduce your holiday stress by communicating effectively with your loved one’s doctor. This gives you a huge relief. It helps you to understand what is happening with your loved one’s health, and what to expect in the future. When you have the information you need, you can ask the right questions and get a better understanding of what is happening. Likewise, the more clearly you explain your loved one’s issues, what result you are hoping for, and solutions you are considering, the more effectively your loved one’s doctor can work with you.
Being able to work with your loved one’s doctor and communicate in a way that gets results you need makes you feel prepared. It puts you back in control.
When you are in control, you feel more confident. This goes a long way toward reducing your holiday stress. You can focus on spending time with my loved one during the holidays, rather than worrying about their health.
Remember: 1. Know your 5 caregiver roles, 2. identify the role which challenges you most, 3. visualize your best caregiving life and what a good day today, 4. name the barriers that stand in the way, and finally 5. collaborating with your loved one’s doctor to create a plan that removes these barriers while help you give the best care possible.
If you follow these five steps, you can make it a better holiday season that makes your life better now and for the coming new year.
Until next time ...
Please leave a comment. How is your loved one's doctor helping you this holiday season?
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For more information:
Forrest Jones MD
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My website CaringEnd.com
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