5 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout (conclusion)

Let me once again welcome guest post writer Brenda Kimble. She is a writer and caregiver based in Austin, TX. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging to support local causes and connecting with others in her field. Outside of her work, Brenda loves doing yoga, completing new DIY projects around her home, as well as spending time with her husband and three children. 

Thanks, Brenda!

 

How to Stay Positive While Taking Care of Loved Ones: 5 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout (part two)

 

3.      Set Boundaries and Outline Responsibilities

If you’ve taken the lead in caring for your family member or friend, it can be difficult to cede control. It only grows harder as time goes by. However, you can’t do this on your own. Even delegating tasks to others can wear on you when you’ve been doing it 24/7/365.

Put an end to directing the work—or putting all the burden on your own shoulders—by divvying up all the responsibilities and chores that come with taking care of someone. Between other family members, friends, government and community resources and hired help, you can lighten your own load.

You also need to put boundaries on your own personal time. This might include scheduling a day, a night or a weekend or longer away from your caregiving duties. Remember, you need time to recharge, to take care of yourself and to enjoy your life.

4.      Practice Mindfulness

Taking time for yourself, for recharging and enjoying life, ought to include a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a calm, intentional focus inward on how you’re feeling. It’s a fantastic way to keep tabs on your own mental health and physical wellness.

It also doesn’t have to be a long and involved ritual. Try sitting down for a few minutes every day when you can be alone in a quiet place. It can be in the bathroom after you brush your teeth or in your bed at night before you go to sleep. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and check in with how you feel. Ask yourself questions: How did the day go? What did you accomplish? What is making you happy? What is making you feel bad? What do you hope will happen tomorrow? What have you done for you? Are you taking care of yourself? Do you feel taken care of?

If any problems crop up, you don’t have to fix them right away. Acknowledging them in the moment is enough. If you’re feeling unwell, make appointments with your own doctors or with others you can depend on to step into the role as caregiver while you regain your health.

5.      Create Your Own Support System

As a caregiver, you’re an essential part of your patient’s support system. Even though you aren’t the one with the chronic illness, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t in need of a support system, too. Yours just might look a little different.

Enlist friends that you can count on to take care of you while you care for your loved one. Having someone to cook you dinner, tidy up your house and take you out to the movies can be exactly what you need to remain positive, no matter what caregiving sends your way.

 

Read the rest of this informative article next Sunday. Thanks again to Brenda for her willingness to share with us on this blog.

As always, your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. Actually, Brenda will. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

5 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout (part one)

Let me welcome guest post writer Brenda Kimble. She is a writer and caregiver based in Austin, TX. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging to support local causes and connecting with others in her field. Outside of her work, Brenda loves doing yoga, completing new DIY projects around her home, as well as spending time with her husband and three children. 

The final part of this article will appear next week.

Thanks, Brenda!

 

How to Stay Positive While Taking Care of Loved Ones: 5 Ways to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

When a loved one is sick, we drop everything to play nurse. We cook, we clean, we coddle. We do everything we can to ensure that they’re taken care of, regardless of our other responsibilities and even our own well-being.

But what happens when that loved one isn’t suffering from the flu or a stomach bug? What happens when that loved one doesn’t have a broken leg or a migraine? What happens when that loved one has a chronic illness and our role as nurse-cook-housekeeper-therapist is never-ending?

There’s a name for what happens: caregiver burnout.

What Is Caregiver Burnout?

The exhaustion you’re feeling, the despair, the anger, the hopelessness—all these emotions are symptoms of caregiver burnout. That’s the clinical term for a state commonly experienced by many long-term caregivers, which is also called compassion fatigue. It happens when we do more caregiving work than we’re reasonably able to for an extended period of time.

It’s possible for burnout to spiral into depression, which can manifest in reckless, neglectful or abusive behavior. In addition to harming the caregiver, compassion fatigue can also hurt the patient. That’s why it’s essential to maintain positivity in your life and to manage the stress that accompanies caregiving.

How to Prevent Caregiver Burnout

The key to staying positive, preserving your sense of self, and continuing to effectively care for your chronically ill loved one is to counteract the different causes of compassion fatigue. You know what they say: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Here are Five Ways to Be a Better, Happier, Healthier Caregiver:

1.      Separate the Different Roles You Play

One of the largest factors in triggering caregiver fatigue is that you might blur the lines between your role as a caregiver and your role as a spouse (or a daughter or a mother or a friend—whichever relationship to your patient suits your circumstances). You went into caregiving giving it your all and ignored your own needs to fulfill the other relationship you had with your loved ones.

It’s never too late to re-establish these two distinct roles. It’s not selfish to require that a portion of your interactions with your loved one is as a significant other rather than as a nurse. This will require a serious conversation that focuses on how you’re feeling and what you need. It might be helpful to schedule dates during which you aren’t the caregiver.

2.      Recalibrate Your Expectations

It’s nice to be thanked for the work you do. In most situations, after all, we expect gratitude. With 24/7 caregiving, though, often the thank yous go unsaid. This is especially true when your loved one is struggling with debilitating or degrading symptoms, including mental health problems like depression, which are common in those with chronic illnesses.

The truth is that positivity is often hard to come by. Often, that’s the reality of chronic and progressive diseases. While it’s fair to ask for a few words of thanks, it’s unrealistic to expect it. Rather than noticing when the gratitude is missing from your patient’s words or actions, try to correct your thoughts. Think of your caregiving work as a task rather than a favor.

~*~

Read the rest of this informative article next Sunday. Thanks again to Brenda for her willingness to share with us on this blog.

As always, your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. Actually, Brenda will. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

More Time to Read and a Different Way to Write

 

I love reading. I always have. I have fond memories of the old Dr. Doolittle books and Ben and Me and oh, so many other great kids books of ages long gone by.

As I entered my teen years, my tastes matured as well, although I don’t recall what I read then other than science fiction. Especially space travel, which at that time seemed like an impossible dream.

Then I ended up majoring in English in college, and I HAD to read so many books that I seldom (if ever) had a chance to read for pleasure anymore. I’ll never forget the course on the 20th Century Novel I took in my very last semester. We studied some pretty weird books, but one of the slightly less weird books really caught my fancy…John Barth’s The Floating Opera.

As it turned out, I moved to Cambridge, Maryland, after college and taught there for six-plus years. And that’s the setting of The Floating Opera. I was fascinated to reread that book and walk down the street from my boarding house and look more closely at the places Barth described so vividly.

Teaching 9th grade English, I got caught up in handling book club orders for my students, and I fell in love with some of the best of teen fiction at the time. Who could ever forget The Pigman or any of the other popular teen books from the late sixties and early seventies? Not all of them were pleasant. Like Go Ask Alice.

michener

Once I got away from teaching, however, I also got away from the teen book influence. James Michener’s novels captivated me. Not just because they were excellent reads, but because he was living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland at the time, and that fascinated me.

Especially when my former wife  came home announcing that she’d gone with one of our church members (who did secretarial work for Mr. Michener) took her to his home to meet him. What irony. She wouldn’t have waded through one of his novels to save her life.

For what it’s worth, she did introduce me to Mrs. Michener when she saw and recognized her in a department store one day. Nice, but not the same as meeting him would have been.

After writing my first novel, I discovered how much novels had changed over the years. Those books I’d barely tolerated that last semester of college were pretty typical. Gone were numerous introductory pages (or in Mr. Michener’s case, multiple chapters) of backstory. The author needed to hook the reader in the first paragraph. Preferably in the first sentence.

Modern life is fast-paced, and the contemporary novel must maintain the reader’s interest from start to finish or be thrown away or returned. Although I have an almost complete set of everything James Michener wrote (the picture above is of just some of my collection), even I no longer have the patience to plod through his books again.

I could tell you more, but I think you get the idea.

Not only did I have to learn to write differently than I’d learned to write in college, I learned to read and enjoy a different style of fiction.

And one of the joys of retirement is having the time to read as much as I want to. Not that I ever expect to return to James Michener. Like the man himself, my interest in that kind of reading has died.

Do you read fiction or non-fiction? What’s your favorite book? Do you still remember a favorite childhood book? Please share a comment with the rest of us.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

 

Why Did You Come Here in the First Place?

Thanks to my former English student Tom Donaghy for something he recently said on Facebook. Something that stuck in my mind till I felt compelled to write this.

Quite recently, President Trump has come under attack for telling four ultra-socialist, anti-American members of Congress to go back home–to their countries of origin. My statement , of course, is out of context and makes some basic assumptions about those four women, whom I pray for even though I cannot bring myself to refer to as “ladies.”

While I think the President’s wording was, like many of the other things he’s said or tweeted since gaining office, somewhat lacking in class, I believe he speaks for a majority of Americans regarding the immigration problem, along with other serious problems the Democrats are failing to deal with appropriately because they’re spending most of their time trying to get rid of him.

Ah, but my purpose in writing this post is not to put Mr. Trump down for his failure to control his tongue (or his Twitter fingers). Nor is it an attempt to roast the Democrats, who are already so close to being burned to charcoal than I can almost smell it here in Richmond. And neither am I attacking the “Squad” of socialistic women.

Right.

But I couldn’t be more concerned about the signs of hostility some immigrants–mostly illegal, I’m assuming–are showing towards America once they’re here. Of course many of them were promised the moon to get them to the border–and through, over, or under it. Then they can be given the vote that only legitimate citizens have the right to have and vote for the party that promises them everything.

We live in one of the most crime-free neighborhoods I’m familiar with. We have a number of Latino neighbors. We have a waving-and-smiling friendship with many of them and, frankly, I don’t care whether they’re legally here or not. Most of them seem to be good people.

So, can you imagine our shock several years ago when someone tore down or stole the American flag from a neighbor’s front yard? I’m not saying the culprit was a Latino, but when I hear very few of the adults speaking English among themselves, I’m reminded of something I learned in elementary school, as did many of you. I wonder if this is even mentioned in American history classes now.

What am I talking about? The fact that America is–or at least was–a great melting pot, made up of a number of different races, ethnic groups, and nationalities. Even though many of America’s earliest immigrants chose to remain among others of their particular background when they first arrived here, they eventually gave up some of that to adapt appropriately to the ways of their new homeland.

And, in so doing, some of their ways gained enough popularity to become important features of life in America.

Now I read news stories about places that refuse to fly an American flag for fear it will offend someone who might even be in America illegally. And about schools that refuse to let students wear tee shirts with any kind of symbolism that might offend some other minority group.

I could go on and on about this problem, and I suspect many of you could add numerous examples.

That brings me to the title of this post, “Why Did You Come Here in the First Place?” I’m undoubtedly preaching to the choir now, but why would anyone come to a new country without the desire to learn its language and customs and make a sincere effort to fit in? Especially if they’re here illegally, when their efforts to become legally Americanized would enable them stay here.

I can’t blame anyone for wanting to partake of the American Dream, but there’s a right way and many wrong ways to do it. I wish no ill to the illegals–hmm, is that word just coincidentally similar to ill eagles?–but I think all immigrants should be prepared to prove they really want to become Americans and not just expatriates clustering together and wondering why the rest of us are looking at them suspiciously.

This post has been harder to write than I’d expected. Maybe I’ll delete rather than post it. But if you’re reading it, you’ll know my frustrations bugged me into airing them publicly.

Oh, by the way, don’t you think we need a Constitutional amendment declaring English to be the one and only official American language (leaving individual localities free to continue being bilingual, of course)?

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

As Long As Those Fingers Hold Out…

I started learning to play guitar soon after my birthday in September, 1962. I used money I’d been saving for my high school class ring to buy an eighteen dollar Silvertone. I didn’t even know how to tune it, and digital tuners were many years in the future.

With the folk fad in vogue at the time, I focused on learning finger picking. (Although I do strum some songs, I’ve never become comfortable or competent with a pick.) Learning the theory behind some of the basics didn’t take long, but making my fingers cooperate consistently seemed impossible.

As strange as it might sound, John F. Kennedy’s assassination and funeral changed all of that. I was off from school, and nothing but JFK-related programming was on TV, so I had LOTS of time to really polish those finger styles. Although I’ve added a lot to my techniques since then, I count that time as when I really caught on to learning to play.

I do most of my playing now in my church’s nursing home ministry, where accuracy is less important than having a loving attitude. Not that I don’t practice quite a bit for the solo I do each week, but somehow I just don’t feel I still have what I used to have. Occasionally I even cheat and simplify something I’ve been doing a particular way for a number of years.

But what if I reach the point of no longer being nimble enough to play at all?

My mother was a very good pianist, but rheumatoid arthritis silenced her playing several years before her death. I don’t have any symptoms of that disease, but still…I don’t feel like I’m playing as well as I did ten or fifteen years ago.

I didn’t intend for this post to be about me. Not really.

It’s about Carlos Montoya. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Montoya, people considered him the finest flamenco (that’s Spanish gypsy music) guitarist around. He lived from 1903 to 1993.

I went to see him in person while I was in high school—on Saturday, March 23, 1963. “Fabulous” doesn’t begin to describe his playing. Compared to him, I’ve never been a guitar player at all.

MontoyaOldProgram     MontoyaAlbumCover.pg

I saw him again years later—on July 30, 1986—when he was eighty-three. He wasn’t the same guitarist he’d been twenty-three years earlier, but nobody in that audience seemed to care. If anything, listeners were enthralled that he was still playing as well as he was.

MontoyaNewProgram   

Should I ever decline enough in my playing for others to notice, I hope they won’t say, “Oh, he used to be pretty good.” I hope they’ll say, “He never quits trying, does he?”

Do you do something you can’t do as well now as when you were younger?  Please share a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday or whenever I next have something to say. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

Vegetating about a Tasteless Topic

When I was in the eighth grade, I was already quite ill a few weeks before Christmas. But then I went into convulsions one night and ended up in a coma for several days. The problem was acute viral encephalitis. The doctors didn’t know whether I would live, and they cautioned my parents that I might end up in a vegetative state even if I survived at all.

As I hope you can tell from my writing, I survived and am fairly normal. Okay, maybe how normal is questionable. But the important thing is I’m not a vegetable.

I have no idea whether the danger of becoming a vegetable somehow worked itself into my system to make me an ongoing hater of most vegetables. Especially the healthiest ones.

Of course, I’d actually started hating vegetables long before that. My mother believed in healthy cooking, and I was supposed to eat whatever was on my plate. All of it. No protests. No compromises.

So my hatred of veggies started at an early age. And the problem wasn’t just the taste. Often it was the texture, too. I’ll never forget stewed tomatoes and those little seeds floating around. Or lima beans–even just regular butter beans–and having to chew on something I couldn’t believe God had ever intended for human consumption. Ditto for yellow squash.

The memories of green leafy vegetables are best left somewhere in the garbage bin portion of my brain. The very smell of broccoli almost makes me sick; it’s impossible to put enough Cheese Whiz or cheese sauce on it to keep the stink from telling my tongue, “This stuff is horrible.”

My mother often served asparagus. (Do they still have the kind that comes in an upside-down glass jar?)  She never heated it, though. If the jar had just been opened, it was served at room temperature. If it had been in the fridge, it was served, uh, cold. Not a very appealing thought, huh?

Strangely enough, though, I found the tips to be tolerable. Probably because they were tender. But too often the rest was tough enough not to be very kid-friendly. Just to be fair, I very recently put one small asparagus spear on my plate while eating at someone else’s house. It had been cooked, and was still warm.

Oh, my! But it was still repulsive. Even more so than during childhood.

My wife likes to fix a dish called Italian Pasta Skillet. It has some spinach in it. Unable to convince her to leave that ingredient out, I used to fish the spinach out and dump it in her bowl. Although I’m still not wild about spinach–please don’t try feeding it to me without the other pasta skillet ingredients to help cover up the taste–I don’t cringe now when I eat it.

Yes, I do like a few vegetable. Who could dislike corn on the cob? Or even corn that’s been uncobbed–or is that decobbed? Or potatoes, baked, mashed, or preferably fried? Oven fries are great!

Oh, and I eat a number of raw baby carrots almost daily. I can’t say I “love” them, but they’re far less offensive than most veggies. And canned french green beans are okay if I pour enough barbecue sauce on them. I just can’t understand why my wife laughs at me when I do that.

Okay, folks. Here’s the bottom line. I agree that kids need to eat healthy while they’re growing up. They can become degenerates like me once they’re adults and take a chance of the effects on their longevity.

But, for Pete’s sake (and theirs, too), if they turn up their noses at one kind of vegetable more than at others and they do it consistently, why not take the hint and look for an acceptable substitute?

Not a problem with my daughter, thank goodness. She loved–and still loves–veggies. Probably all of them.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Roger's newest novel

Links you might be interested in:

 

Live a Long Life: Eight of the Best Tips for Healthy Aging

 

Welcome to another great guest post by Kaki Zell. Thanks SO much, Kaki!

 

Whenever a person turns 100 or older, friends, family and even reporters ask them: “What’s your secret?” Centenarians and supercentenarians (those who have lived past their 110th birthday) often have unique takes on why they’ve lived so long — 117-year-old Emma Murano said the secret to longevity is “being single,” while the third-oldest verified person ever, Nabi Tajima, said the key to a long life is “eating delicious things.”

Based on their responses, there is no one secret to aging past 100 — but there are a few ways to encourage healthy aging at any decade that are backed by cold, hard data. Until we discover the Fountain of Youth, here are some of the things you can do to foster healthy aging.

 

 

  1. Eat Well and Exercise — The two fundamentals to a healthy life at any age are diet and exercise. What you eat and how much you move have major effects on how you age. Nutritionists recommend eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats in order to provide your body with the right amount of nutrients. This healthy diet will also help prevent weight gain, which could lead to heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
  2. Get the Right Amount of Sleep — Like diet and exercise, sleep is fundamental to good health. The National Sleep Foundation warns that people with sleep problems are at a much higher risk for significantly diminished health. Untreated sleep disorders — including insomnia, excessive sleepiness and sleep apnea — have also been linked to heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic or life-threatening diseases. Beyond getting enough sleep at night, studies also show that napping is good for you, so go ahead and relish that afternoon snooze.
  3. Boost Your Circulation — To live a long, healthy life, you need to get your blood moving. Poor circulation can prevent your body from staying healthy, healing well and functioning properly during everyday activities. In other words, it can hold you back from the things you want to do in your twilight years. Wearing compression gear as part of a compression therapy program is an easy way to improve your circulation so that blood can properly transport essential oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. Putting on a pair of compression socks each morning can also help reduce foot and leg pain and swelling as an added bonus.
  4. Travel as Much as You Can — Looking for an excuse to finally book that luxury cruise? Here’s one: it can actually help you live longer. Research shows that those who do not vacation annually are at a 30 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. Other studies indicate that there’s a link between happiness and travel, so sunning on the beach or touring a famous landmark might benefit your mental and cognitive health, too. The primary reason taking a trip can support health and well-being is that it’s a surefire way to decrease stress, which is often the silent culprit behind many of our most pressing health issues.

  1. Take Up a New Hobby — There’s a wide variety of hobbies and activities that are linked to better health and happiness, from sports (for the obvious reasons) to writing, which improves cognitive performance and concentration. There are a few other activities you may be surprised to learn can prolong your life, including reading, gardening, playing chess, playing an instrument and cooking. Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby is an excellent retirement activity and can connect you with likeminded people to foster social connections, so it’s an all-around win.
  2. Take Care of Your Teeth —Many people are surprised to learn that there’s a connection between the health of our teeth and the health of the rest of our body. The American Heart Association says that gum disease — the buildup of plaque that can cause tooth decay — shares risk factors with heart attack and stroke, and doctors often use oral health as an indicator of heart health. Good oral health also helps prevent bad breath, dry mouth, sores and cavities, which can cause stress and low self-esteem. So, the next time your dentist scolds you about not flossing enough, take it seriously!
  3. Stay Social — Study after study confirms the notion that good friendships help you live longer, so making your lunch and dinner dates a priority is certainly a good strategy to vitality. Loneliness is closely linked to lower mortality rates, with some studies suggesting that it could be as dangerous to your health as smoking. Similarly, those with stronger social relationships have a much higher (as much as 50 percent) likelihood of survival. The fact is that social connections are fundamental to a healthy lifestyle right alongside diet, exercise and getting enough sleep, so make sure you’re spending plenty of quality time with friends and family.
  4. It’s All About Prevention — An ounce of prevention is worth… well, you know the saying. One of the best things you can do to ensure that you live a long, healthy life is to practice prevention. With so many new medical advancements and insight, there is simply no excuse not to take the preventative route as often as you can. You can practice effective prevention through diet, exercise, regular health screenings, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your consumption of alcohol and processed foods. Make sure that you monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly as part of your prevention plan.

Thanks again, Kaki!

Comments are always welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday–or whenever I next have something to say. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in: