Tag Archives: AGE-u-cate Training Institute

Caregiver Martyr Syndrome – What to Look For and How to Help

Caregivers of older adults are some of the most selfless, committed people on the planet.   Simply put, not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver.  The problem lies in the fact that some caregivers believe they are the only ones who can care properly for their family member.  This is often referred to as Caregiver Martyr Syndrome.

martyr, 3D rendering, traffic signI’ve talked about this martyr syndrome many times over the years when speaking to family caregivers.  Often I get an inquisitive look – like “Wow” she just called me a Martyr.  When I follow-up my question with assuring them that I got an A+ in the school of caregiver martyrdom,  I would hear and feel  sighs of relief, as if I had just given them permission to be honest with themselves.

Caregiver martyrs are certain that they are the ONLY ones who can properly care for their loved one.  Because they are such caring and selfless souls, they become intertwined in the needs and desires of their loved one, so much so that it could easily be confused with co-dependence.  So, if a caregiver believes “I am the only one that can properly care for mom”, then guess what happens?

  • Other family members and friends become “inadequate” to care for your loved one.  This spells resentment and stirs up anger among the caring circle.
  • Caregiver martyrs take on more and more responsibility, often to the detriment of their own needs or those of their family.
  • As this snowball continues, caregivers isolate themselves (and their loved one ) from many people who are willing (and able) to help in the care of their loved one.

Martyrs need to step back and reflect – then get out a paper and pen, listing all of the things they do for their loved one AND all of their other life responsibilities.  When I ask caregivers to do this, they are often shocked to see all they have taken on.  Then the big question:

Is it really possible for anyone to take on this much responsibility and do it well?  The answer is clearly NO.   So the next step is to allow others to help by taking on some of these tasks, whether they are things that must be done every day, every week or every month.  Go back to your caring circle and allow each of them the blessing of choosing something that will lighten your load.

Being open to accept help, and realizing that you are not the only person on the planet who can provide good care for your loved one may be the greatest gift you can give to yourself, your family members, friends, and most of all your care receiver.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Caring for her own parents transformed her life purpose to help others who are caring for older adults.  Creator of the Dementia Live™️ Experience, this program is helping thousands of caregivers in the US and abroad to better understand people living with dementia.  

www.AGEucate.com

Empathy Training for Dementia Care – A Strong Foundation Tool

AdobeStock_121846321Neurological research substantiates that human beings appear to be “wired” to be empathetic.  In other words, we all have an innate ability to be empathetic.   Would empathy training in dementia care  provide a strong foundation tool for front line staff to help improve the quality of life for those living with dementia?

Empathy is the ability for one to walk in someone else’s shoes.  To experience their world so as to gain a deeper understanding of what he/she is experiencing.  For those in dementia care, stepping into their world is often especially challenging, as behaviors and emotions can change rapidly and unexpectedly.

The “AHA” moment is HUGE when a care partner can feel the frustrations, anxiety, fear, helplessness and aloneness that living with dementia often perpetuates.  This opens a care partner’s eyes, thus propelling them to draw on this innate sense of empathy.  When care partners receive empathy training it becomes a strong foundational tool to build on critical skills that empower care partners, especially when helping someone who is living with dementia.  Some of these critical skills included:

  • The ability to deeply and with understanding of their reality
  • Learning to read and understand body language
  • Freeing oneself from creating perceptions or judgements by focusing on care partner’s feelings instead of your own
  • Accepting the reality of the moment – good, bad or indifferent
  • Avoidance of ever being “right” or having to prove a point
  • How to use such powerful and simplistic tools that have exponential benefits, such as touch, music, nature and art to help respond to behavioral expression
  • Allowing silence to build engagement without words
  • Gaining an inside-out perspective of living with dementia
  • Tapping memories that are still alive and impactful for the person living with dementia

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute.  Creator of the Dementia Live™️ Experience that powerfully simulates what living with dementia might be like, Pam is passionate about creating transformative change in elder care.

www.AGEucate.com

 

 

Back to Basics in Dementia Care – Are We Making it too Complicated?

Hand with marker writing the word Back to BasicsThe number of older adults with dementia is forecast to more than double in the next 40 years.  Training people to care for these individuals – both professionals and families is paramount in improving the quality of life for the caregiver as well as the care receiver.  Is it time to get back to basics in our approach to education and training?

Attitudes, skills and knowledge of staff working with people who are living with dementia have the potential to influence the person’s well-being, quality of life and function. Training is often seen as the means by which changes in quality of care can be pursued, and there are an increasing number of opportunities for staff in dementia care to attend training courses  to help improve competence in care. However,  there is evidence in many fields that training alone is not sufficient to effect significant positive change.

Grounded in the philosophy of person-centered care is that each person is an individual with his/her own values, needs, family situations, spiritual beliefs and lifestyles.  Being compassionate, thinking about things from another person’s perspective and being respectful are all basic qualities of person-centered core values.  It is certainly not just about activities.  Core personal values in communications, engagement and relationship building are back to basics skills that are:

 

Feasible:  Uses existing resources, are easy for staff to learn and practically ensures sustainability

Is Effective: Eases physical and emotional distress, builds trust in caregivers and provides a holistic personalized approach

Encourages Family Engagement:  Provides a means for family to support their loved ones and enhances the family, staff teamwork

Improves Staff Satisfaction:  Empowers staff with meaningful tools, reduces fatigue and builds core competencies

Getting Back to Basics is the Simplest Means to Find Calm in the Chaos…

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, whose Dementia Live™️ and Compassionate Touch® programs are transforming care across the US and abroad.  

www.AGEucate.com

 

 

Caregiver Burnout: What to Look for and How to Help

burnout - ngste CLosing sleep, poor eating habits, irritability or short tempered – these symptoms may start small and snowball quickly into what is referred to as caregiver burnout.   Professionals and families need to know what to look for and how to help caregivers.  It’s a serious matter and growing, as more families are caring for their loved ones at home with little or no help.

Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude – from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.  Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able to do – either physically, emotionally or financially.

Guilt is a huge problem with caregivers, especially those who are caring for someone with dementia or other chronic illness.  As I reflect on my many years caring for my parents, I think guilt was the over riding struggle.  Like most caregivers, I felt guilty when I was not spending time with my parents, and when I was caring for them I felt guilty that I wasn’t with my children and husband.  It was a constant balancing act – and more than often I felt that I was on the low end of the teeter totter.

Symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to symptoms of stress and depression:  They may include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and social activities
  • Irritability
  • Altered eating patterns
  • Increased sugar consumption or use of alcohol or drugs
  • Frequent headaches or sudden onset of back pain
  • Impatience
  • Loss of compassion
  • Overreacting to criticism or commonplace accidents
  • Resenting the care recipient and/or situation
  • Wishing to “have the whole thing over with”
  • Feeling trapped
  • High levels of fear and anxiety

Playing the “if only games; saying over and over “if only this would happen; or “if only this hadn’t happened”

It is critically important that senior care professionals understand what to look for when they are talking with families.  Symptoms may start slowly but can quickly snowball into a serious situation. Protecting our older adults from neglect and abuse means a watchful eye and being able to guide families with support and help the need.

A few sources for help and assistance are:

      • Social workers
      • Faith based counselors
      • Family Caregiver Support Groups
      • Area Agencies on Aging (hotline 800-963-5337) (www.n4A.org)
      • Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900) (www.alz.org)
      • National Elder Abuse hotline (800-677-1116)

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www.ncea.acl.gov

    )

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and creator Dementia Live™️ experience, helping caregivers worldwide to better understand dementia and aging, transforming professional and family caregiver’s ability to better care for our older adults.  

www.AGEucate.com