Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guest Post: How to Stay Positive as a Caregiver

By Stewart Probert

Acting as a care giver for a loved one can be a rewarding role, but, at times, the pressure can sometimes make it very difficult to stay positive. The stress of a long-term illness is very hard on a patient—and can also be a turbulent emotional roller-coaster for a carer. The most common emotions often described by those who are long-term carers are feelings of sorrow, despair, guilt, irritation and fear. These emotions can easily impact the life of the carer, leading to feelings of tension and stress.

These feelings are not unusual! Watching pieces of a loved one that you cherish slip away to illness is one of the most drawn out and painful experiences.  Sadness is common when facing the loss of a person you love or are very fond of.

Many people feel extreme guilt at the irritation they feel, adding to the pressure. Although these emotions can prevent you from feeling positive about your care role, there are many more times that you will feel greatly rewarded. If it is a parent that a carer is looking after, many people cherish the opportunity to show their parents how much they love them.

The type of relationship you, as a carer, share with the person that you’re caring for can impact how positive you feel about the role. For example, it could be a role reversal. Perhaps you are caring for a husband or wife, someone who once cared for you. As a carer, you are probably the closest person to your loved one, which means you experience the ups and downs of their illness. Staying positive is no easy feat.

In order to combat this negativity, examine exactly which negative feelings are making you unhappy. This might sound very vague… try to dig deep down into its roots. It might be quite painful to examine your feelings in this manner. Yet, it really is worth it!

Once you understand what it is that’s making you upset you can seek the necessary help you as a carer need to carry on in your role. Just because you’re a carer now doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have anyone look after you!

The first step in turning this situation around? Share your feelings with someone who will truly listen. Sometimes it helps to just get things out in the open, and could instantly make you feel more relaxed. If you don’t have anyone close to talk to, you could contact one of the many professionals available to help, from nurses to social workers. You could also contact a helpline specifically designed for carers, such as the Dementia Helpline (in the UK), which is available 24/7.

Alternatively, it can be useful to join a support group. Sometimes, a couple of hours a week sharing your experience with others who understand can be of great help. It’s not uncommon as a carer to feel totally isolated and alone, and realizing others are out there, who share your struggles and pain, can be an amazing gift. Medical professionals in the community or helpline staff can recommend how to go about finding relevant groups for you to attend.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Any other person in a caring position has probably experienced exactly the same emotions as you and suffered in the very same ways.

Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved!

Stewart Probert is part of Caring Homes, a UK-based company specializing in award-winning retirement, nursing and dementia care facilities, including the historic Bradbury House in Essex.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Must-Have for Family Caregivers: The Senior Care Organizer

Claudia Rumwell, a trained nurse, knows a thing or two about caregiving, having looked after her elderly parents for more than a decade. She saved every form and took every note, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.” And now, she’s ready to share all that she learned on her “adventure” with those in the trenches.

Was your mother just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Has your husband’s Parkinson’s disease gotten so advanced that he can no longer dress himself? Not sure where to start or how to manage? Claudia’s Senior Care Organizer has what you need… without the information overload.

Think of it as your “problem-solver” when you’re wondering...

  • Where do I start?
  • What information should I have readily available?
  • Who can help me locate a place for my wife and me to live?   
  • How can I tell when a senior needs more help?
  • What if I need in-home care for my husband?
  • What are some ways to improve safety around the home?

The Organizer lays it out step-by-step.  It provides quick access to important information alphabetically. The included worksheets can be filled out or easily revised, then printed for storage in your own notebook.  It also provides you with resources, ideas and information for answering many of the questions you’re likely to have related to senior care. And talk about easy. All you have to do is download the interactive PDF file to get started.

Finally, a simple tool to help you get all of your ducks in a row.

No one can know what the future holds in terms of your loved one’s medical or physical needs. The Senior Care Organizer will allow you to be ready in the event of health care changes or an emergency. And, as Claudia points out, people who anticipate stepping into a caregiver role and having a plan of action feel less burdened during a crisis than those who have made no plans at all.

To purchase the Senior Care Organizer and read more of Claudia’s tips for your caregiving journey, visit You can also connect with her on Twitter (@seniorcareorg).