Dr. Cheryl Woodson

Happy Thanksgiving, Caregivers Thank Yourselves

All too often, we caregivers beat ourselves up for what we did not do, what we cannot do, or what we think we didn’t do quite well enough. Instead, this holiday season, and every day, I want us to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Can you give yourself props for what you did well? Here’s an excerpt from the new edition of TO SURVIVE CAREGIVING: A Daughter’s Experience, A Doctor’s Advice, coming soon from RyNorn Press, Inc, hoping to get you to be thankful for yourself!

Give Yourself Credit When You Do a Good Job

When we love our seniors and acknowledge that they made us who we are, we are grateful. We want to do right by them, but many caregivers fear that they are not doing what is right. Before they succumb to emotional distress, these caregivers should take another look.

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My pastor honored me by letting me take care of his mother. In the three years that I served as her doctor, Mom declined from moderate to severe dementia, but Pastor Mike and his family were able to care for her at home. In one office visit, Pastor Mike said that he often angered Mom by jumping to help her before she needed help, and by jumping to protect her before she did anything dangerous. As we talked about easing up a bit, it became clear that Pastor Mike’s greatest fear was that he wasn’t a good caregiver. He was afraid that something might happen to Mom “on my watch.”

I asked him when Mom had last:

  • Broken a bone, or had even taken a fall
  • Suffered wounds, or any other injuries
  • Had an infection
  • Been in the hospital or the emergency room
  • Missed a doctor’s appointment
  • Gone without her medicine
  • Had her caregiver fail to contact the doctor immediately when there was a change or a question
  • Had any unmet needs at all
  • Seemed anything but cheery (definitely not unhappy)

Pastor Mike not only denied that any of this had ever happened, he seemed appalled at the thought. I told him, and I’m telling you: THAT’S GOOD CAREGIVING.

  • Meet with the doctors and receive the LOCRx
  • Pull your team together and give the recommended care in the appropriate care site
  • Act quickly to get the information you need whenever there is a new problem or question and
  • Continually strive to meet your senior’s needs as promptly as possibleRemember: Guilt is from the “Dark Side.” It hurts you without helping your loved ones at all. Take steps to avoid this worthless and unproductive emotion by giving yourself credit for doing what you can.
  • No, you can’t keep dementia or other chronic illnesses from stealing them away from you, but didn’t you contact the doctor immediately when your senior had a complaint, didn’t you make sure she never ran out of medicine, don’t you play his favorite music, and sit through her favorite movies, and make his favorite foods? Be thankful for what you CAN do and give yourself a break.
  • This makes you a good caregiver.

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