The New Year looms large, and if you’re like me, making some needed changes can feel scary, particularly if those changes involve the relationship with our patient/loved one. For caregivers, changing day to day routines can feel risky even if the possibility for attaining some degree of balance for ourselves is possible.
So let’s take stock of that rut we were in called 2011. I know my personal ruts, my habits and routines of the past year need rethinking. So, let’s just jump into 2012 by facing our fears about our caregiving routines.
So what are you afraid of changing? Pick a caregiving task or activity. Ask yourself, “Why am I afraid of changing ________?” Is it because.....
-no one else can do it but me?
-my loved one only wants me to assist?
-I am fearful that someone else can do it better me?
-I am afraid something bad will happen?
-I don’t know how to ask others to help me?
Do you have other excuses not stated here for keeping your caregiving routine the same? Consider those and place them on this list of excuses.
Let’s examine each of these excuses for not changing our caregiving routine.
-NO ONE ELSE CAN DO IT BUT ME.
I’ve been known to say this too, but examined in the light of day, it’s just not true. Others can complete tasks; the issue is that they will probably do them differently. Different can be better! After allowing others to help, I’ve actually learned some new options for caregiving tasks.
-MY LOVED ONE ONLY WANTS ME TO ASSIST.
Of all the excuses on this list, this one is and was the most different for me to confront. Often your loved one will say something like, “You are the best at _____” or “I really want only you to do ______.” My suggestion is to sort out those tasks that really need doing by you, perhaps something that is very personal for your loved one. Try to delegate those things that are not personal.
-I AM FEARFUL THAT SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO IT BETTER THAN ME.
Yes, there are probably some tasks that others can do better than you. This is true in all of life. You excel at some tasks and for some, you don’t. Again, sort out what you really do best and delegate those things that you don’t like or are not good at.
-I AM AFRAID SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN.
When I feel this way, I find that planning for my absence and anticipating all the possible problems is a good way to assure myself that everything will be all right. For example, asking the doctor the impact of not taking one dose of medication is a useful question that will put you at ease or will emphasize the importance of taking some necessary precaution. Writing instructions for the temporary carer is a good way to increase your confidence.
-I DON’T KNOW HOW TO ASK OTHERS TO HELP ME.
The three key rules for delegating and asking others for help are: pick a person you trust, be specific on what needs to be done, and begin small to increase your confidence. So the first time you leave your loved one with another person, be sure you trust that person, write down your instructions and the patient’s needs, and leave for only an hour or two. Once successful on a small scale, you’ll be able to apply these rules to longer periods of time and more complicated tasks.
I wish you a Happy New Year and new ways of making caregiving a personal triumph for you and your family!
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Margery Pabst is eCareDiary’s caregiving expert and the co-author of Enrich Your Caregiving Journey. Margery is the host of eCareDiary’s BlogTalkRadio show, “Caregiver and Physician Conversations” and answers your questions on the “Expert Q/A” section of the site. You can access Margery Pabst’s information on www.pivotalcrossings.com.
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