Dr. Cheryl Woodson

Woodsonian Inspirational Musings on Monday : Balancing Caregiving with EVERYTHING Else Including YOU!

The Babyboomer Sandwich Generation faces a triple-decker club! Today’s caregivers support seniors, children, and grandchildren, while trying to balance work, marriage, their own health, joy and retirement plans AT THE SAME TIME! The challenge is harder for Boomers than it was for past generations; The America of Boomer Caregivers sees a larger number of seniors who suffer more disability and care, need for so much longer than ever before. No wonder today’s caregivers are exhausted and suffer more physical illness, depression, and financial stress than similar adults who do NOT give care. The health and welfare of our families fall on our shoulders. How do we keep those shoulders strong?

We have to balance our responsibilities by decreasing our stress, protecting our health, and aggressively carving out time to generate joy for ourselves.

PARTNER WITH A SKILLED AND TRUSTED HEALTH PROVIDER

Caregivers torture ourselves, worrying about whether we are doing a good job. Doctors can help by providing a Level of Care Prescription (LOCRx.) In 2006, I coined this term to describe your loved one’s specific care requirements, which doctors recommend after a thorough examination. This decreases your stress by building your confidence.

FOLLOW THE 11th COMMANDMENT: THOU SHALT ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE

Keep an updated calendar your all of appointments for everyone in your care to avoid conflicting schedules and the temptation to miss your own appointments, or deadlines. Record prescription refill dates, and be sure to call for refills when you still have 7-10 pills. This protects you from running out of medicine if there are delays (e.g., provider on vacation, or problems with insurance.)

Keep updated health binders for yourself and everyone else in your care, so you won’t lose important papers, or forget your questions and instructions.   You will also have readily available copies of medical history, allergies, medications, advance directives, prescriptions, referrals, and your doctors’ instructions to share with other providers and family members. Click on “Are You a Caregiver;” download the handout Protecting Your Family in the New Health Care System, and look at instructions to create Bernie Ryan’s binder. TAKE CARE OF THE CAREGIVER

You take care of everything for your senior. Be sure you take care of the one who makes everything possible. YOU! You are the quarterback of the care team, not all of the players. Make things happen, but don’t expect to it all. Speak with your provider, social service professional, or local department on aging to find adult day centers, and other programs that give you a break (respite.) Use this time see your doctor, exercise, enjoy other relationships, rest, and do anything else that gives uplifts you and generates joy. Don’t wait until you are exhausted to get help; you might be too sick, or tired to use the time. You deserve looking forward to regular breaks. Don’t feel guilty. If something happens to you, what will happen to your loved one? Taking care of yourself is just another way to invest in your loved one’s health.

Balance requires information and organization, but most of all, you MUST commit to, insist on, and allow yourself to carve out time to care for the caregiver.

Bernie Ryan  is an amazing caregiver who worked, had her own family, but organized her parents’ health information so well; any of her brothers and sisters could handle transportation, provide and collect essential information without any lapse in care.

Click  “ ARE YOU A CAREGIVER” on my home page; join the Woodson Network and download instructions for Bernie Ryan’s Binder and several other resources to help you balance taking care of your loved ones and YOURSELF.

Stay tuned this week for:

Guest Wisdom on Wednesday: Beverly Kimmons, of the Alzheimer’s Association will give us information on caregiver resources.

Woodsonian Informational Thoughts on Thursday: How Do People Die of Dementia and How to Recognize It

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