Tag Archives: family caregivers

Caregiver Resentment and How it’s like Weeds in your Garden!

I just can’t help but talk about gardening this time of year.  I admit it – I’m addicted.  It’s not uncommon for me to get my garden gloves on early on a Saturday morning and still have them on when at sundown.  Once I start working in my garden, I just can’t stop – especially this time of year.  So why am I going to talk about caregivers resentment and weeds in your garden?

Weeds can take over a garden – very quickly.  And before you know it, the weeds are all there is in the bed.  It’s unsightly and worse, it keeps the good stuff from popping up.  They zap the energy in the earth, grabbing all the good minerals for themselves, and leaving those gorgeous flowers to fend for themselves.  So what’s the answer?  Pull them!  And keep pulling them – don’t stop!  Because if you do, they’ll soon find out they are unwanted and with proper bed preparation, the weeds eventually get the signal that there is no room for them.

Caregiver resentment, like weeds, can creep into a caregivers world and take over quickly.   Caregiver resentment is not healthy, does not allow the beauty to shine and certainly is not good for your overall health.  So let’s have some straight-talk on caregiver resentment.  Have you heard this from someone else or be honest – have these words come out of your own mouth?

“I’m just exhausted.  Mom has been in rehab for over a month and once again my brother hasn’t made it in, my sister came for a few hours – LIKE ALWAYS- I’m the one holding down the fort.  I’m there every waking moment, running home to care for the dogs, water the plants and make sure the mail is taken in.  No one seems to EVER get that I have a job and other responsibilities.  I guess their upcoming vacation is just taking all their time in planning.  Gosh, it must be nice.”

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this is not only resentment but a serious case of caregiver martyrism.   We’ll call this fictitious (but very real) person Mary.  Obviously, Mary is very resentful of her siblings not stepping up to the plate.  We don’t know if Mary has expressed to them the need for help.  It has happened before, so either her siblings have not been told that they need to take on some caregiving responsibilities or maybe Mary has just determined she would take it all on.  I would venture to guess that she might even be a little resentful of the dogs, plants, and mail – not to mention her mother!

Mary is experiencing caregiver resentment – toward her siblings, added responsibilities and quite possibly her mother.  I’m guessing that her visits with her mom may be stressed-filled and hurried.  In addition, her resentment might be affecting her other relationships with loved ones and friends.

If Mary were to offload some chores, and either accept that her siblings are not helping, or seek assistance from other sources, she may find the weeds of resentment begin to shrivel up.  Her visits with mom may be more pleasant,  and she might even have time to spend with her family, friends, and hobbies.  Of course, I would suggest that Mary dig in the dirt and actually do some weed pulling herself!  It’s great therapy and teaches you so much about what’s important in life while learning little nuggets of truth along the way.

Caregivers, please watch for those weeds of resentment that may be creeping into your life and before they take over, please do some digging.  Resentment is not healthy for you, and it’s not fun to be with someone who is carrying this with them.

Remeber to pull the weeds and water the flowers – it’s a gift to yourself and those around you!

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.  A longtime family caregiver herself, she has devoted the last 10 years to helping caregivers better care for others and themselves.   

http://www.AGEucate.com

Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia – What you Need to Know

Eldercare is becoming more about caring for those with dementia.  Because our fastest growing segment of the population are those 85 and older, it correlates with the rise in people living with dementia.  In fact, one in three people age 85 and older are living with some level of dementia.   There are over 1 million Americans living with Parkinson’s Disease and over 10 million worldwide.  This number is also rising with the increase in longevity.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s disease dementia is a decline in thinking and reasoning that develops in many people living with Parkinson’s at least a year after diagnosis. The brain changes caused by Parkinson’s disease begin in a region that plays a key role in movement, leading to early symptoms that include tremors and shakiness, muscle stiffness, a shuffling step, stooped posture, difficulty initiating movement and lack of facial expression. As brain changes caused by Parkinson’s gradually spread, they often begin to affect mental functions, including memory and the ability to pay attention, make sound judgments and plan the steps needed to complete a task.  About half of people living with Parkinson’s Disease have dementia.

Commonly reported symptoms include changes in memory, concentration, and judgment; trouble interpreting visual information; muffled speech; visual hallucinations; delusions, especially paranoid ideas; depression, irritability and anxiety; and sleep disturbances, including excessive daytime drowsiness and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disorder.

Because Parkinson’s is such a highly complex disease, caregivers may often find that dealing with dementia symptoms are even more complex due to many other neurological effects of the disease.  It’s important that caregivers pay attention to declines in cognitive condition with their loved ones.  Noting behaviors and addressing these with their healthcare professional may help in determining if drug alterations may alleviate some of the dementia symptoms.

Care Partners for those living with Parkinson’s face many challenges due to the nature of the disease itself.  When cognitive decline becomes part of the mix, it can lead to extreme stress and anxiety.  Seeking education, support and resources are critical for care partners, as early as possible, is critical for families especially the primary caregiver.

Here are some resources that may help caregivers get started in learning more about dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.  I encourage finding local support groups to attend as these are often valuable in connecting with others, learning new tools to cope and understanding local resources.

www.parkinson.org

www.davisphinneyfoundation.org

www.michaeljfox.org

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and passionate advocate for older adults and those who care for them.  She is a 10-year care partner for her mother who lived with Parkinson’s Disease and has devoted many years to helping families live well with PD.  

www.AGEucate.com

Why are my parents suddenly so stubborn?

The Big “S” word.  It comes up more often than you would think and for good reason.  Adult children who are in any phase of caregiving for their parents, even in the very beginning stages share their frustrations of their parents suddenly being stubborn.   Why is this happening?

Let’s think about the role reversal that is taking place, either gradually over time or suddenly due to a  change in physical or cognitive health.  This role reversal leads to confusion and is never a natural shift for adult children, spouses or other loved ones.  As difficult as this is for the caregiver it much harder for the care receiver.

What is actually happening and why does stubborn behavior from even the most agreeable of people send shock waves through the family?  Imagine if you will, what it might feel like to witness yourself the lack of independence taking place in your own life.  It might be in the form of having someone telling you that it’s time to stop driving, that someone may need to start helping you bathe, “helping” pay your bills or accompany you to regular doctor visits.

It doesn’t matter what the level is at which children, spouses or others find themselves in the position to help out, all of these point to one huge signal to the one needing assistance -loss of independence, decision making and privacy!  For older adults that have had a lifetime of child-rearing, careers, active lives of giving and nurturing others, imagine what it feels like to have someone ( a loved one no less!) tell you that it’s time to turn in the keys.

Like all behaviors, there is an underlying reason.  Underneath a stubborn older adult is someone clinging to what independence they can shelter for themselves, the fear of what tomorrow will bring,  and sadness for what they are leaving behind.

As families struggle with this stubborn syndrome, please step into the shoes of the person you are trying to help.  Kindness, gentleness and empathy go a long way in dealing with difficult life changes.  Family meetings that include the care receiver (if this is possible) is always advised.

Above all, caregivers should be educated and seek help from others who are traveling the same road.  Be prepared for this stubborn behavior to be a new normal, but also know that with the right approach, you can get through the hurdles together and get through this journey with strength and grace.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  A passionate advocate for older adults and those that care for them, Pam is a dynamic speaker, trainer and facilitator and has worked with thousands of caregivers, older adults and hundreds of organizations to help others through the caregiving journey.  

www.AGEucate.com

 

Caregiver’s Bill of Rights – Words of Guidance and Hope

Families caring for aging adults have and will continue to reach unprecedented numbers affecting every corner of our society.   We MUST address the complex needs of this population who are the foundation of long-term care nationwide, exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in all states (National Alliance for Caregiving and Overcare, March 2009).  Jo Horne, author of Caregiving:  Helping an Aging Love One created the Caregiver’s Bill of Rights. These are powerful and impactful words of hope and guidance for each and every person caring for a family member or friend:

I have the right . . . 

To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capacity to take better care of my relative.

To seek help from others even though my relative may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things for myself.

To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.

To reject any attempt by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger, or depression.

To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.

To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.

To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.

To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired older persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.

To ___________________________________________________
(Add you own statement of rights to this list. Read the list to yourself every day.)

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those that serve them.

www.AGEucate.com

www.caregiveraction.org