Caregivers, Take Care of Yourself
Kenny Holt | Community Resource Educator | TLC Caregivers
There is a golden rule for caregiving: “I cannot take care of others if I do not take care of myself.” We must recognize our limitations and accept help where we can. Caregivers must take caution to ensure that they don’t “burn out” or become so tired that they are incapable of providing the needed care to the one they love and are caring for. In this article, the term caregiver is being used to reference the non-paid family or friend providing care to an elderly and/or disabled person, children, both, or even multiple persons.
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 that they need or if they try to do more than they are able – physically, emotionally, and/or financially. Caregivers who are burned out may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and/or depression. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill, elderly, and/or disabled loved one or child(ren); this must be addressed right away and you must acknowledge that you MUST take time for yourself and that it is O.K. and acceptable to do this. How do you as a caregiver prevent burnout? Set realistic expectations for yourself and the one(s) you are caring for. Don’t expect your involvement will have miraculously positive effects on the health and happiness of the one being cared for, this may very well never be the case. If positive improvement is a result you can rejoice in it when it occurs. A lot of things will be beyond your control; the progress of a disease or multiple diseases, weaknesses/inabilities of a person, their desires, etc. Be honest with yourself in determining what you can and cannot do; know your limits, don’t be unreasonable as you place burdens on yourself and don’t be exclusively responsible! Set aside time for yourself! Talk to a professional; a therapist, counselor, social worker, clergy. Take advantage of respite opportunities from family, friends, and/or organizations. Educate yourself. Accept the offerings of others. Schedule your family at different times to provide relief.
If you as a caregiver are employed outside of the home, talk with your human resources department to inquire regarding any programs available to you. Learn about Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Use Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits. FMLA entitles eligible workers to a maximum of 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave without loss of job security or health benefits. There are a variety of restrictions such as company size and the amount of time the worker has been employed.
Find help in the community. Ask family and friends to assist. ASK for help! Initiate family meetings. ACCEPT help when offered, you should not be alone in your efforts! Organize life and work. Practice stress management techniques, exercise, take time to enjoy your favorite meal/drink.
Don’t argue with the person you are caring for! This does nothing but frustrate YOU. How important is the issue? Can redirection techniques be used?
Honor, value, and love yourself! You’re doing a very difficult and exhausting job that others don’t want to do and in some cases won’t do. You deserve quality time and a life just for yourself. Self-Care is not a luxury, it is a necessity! Seek, accept, and demand, when needed ,assistance from other family. Suggest specific things for family and friends to do. What would you tell someone else that was “in your shoes?” How would you empower them as a caregiver? Make a commitment to yourself to take your own advice and take care of YOU! If you do this, you will be better able to care for your loved one.
Learn about nutrition and practice a healthier relationship to food. Drink plenty of water daily. Eat your vegetables, consume plenty of fiber, walk whenever possible or achieve other exercises, become an active partner with your physician and other health care providers to manage your health. Keep your mind active by involvement in things you like in the community, as well as at home. By getting out into the community you can socialize with others, attend support groups for caregivers where you can share your experiences and benefit from the experiences of other caregivers.
Prioritize activities according to their importance and available time. Recognize the harmful effects of perfectionism and take steps to more flexible. Be flexible with your schedule, that flexibility will be crucial to your health. As referenced above, join a support group! There are a number of support groups in our area – reach out to one or more that you feel might be appropriate. Try several out. There are support groups for those caring for persons with specific diseases and/or diagnosis, as well as general support groups. The Council on Aging of West Florida (COAWFLA) is a non-profit organization that provides multiple caregiver support groups at various locations. Most of these support groups are available to all caregivers regardless of age, condition, or illness. There are also two support groups that the COAWFLA conducts for grandparents raising grandchildren and/or other relatives. Additionally, the COAWFLA has an adult day health care program and other programs that could assist. Their phone number is 850.432.1475 and their website is www.coawfla.org. For support groups related to a specific disease and/or diagnosis reach out to the agencies addressing and working with that population.
For more information about services that you as a caregiver can benefit from contact our regional Area Agency on Aging and Disability Resource Center where available funding can also be discussed – 850.494.7102 / 7103, our local United Way agency (Escambia County – Dial 211), Lakeview Center 850.432.1222, and Veteran’s Affairs for those eligible for ceteran’s benefits.
Have we stressed “TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!” It is one of the most important things you can for the person or persons that you are caring for!
How Do I Select the Right Home Care Provider?
Once you acquire the names of several providers, you will want to learn more about their services and reputations. Following is a checklist of questions to ask providers and other individuals who may know about the provider’s track record. Their insight will help you determine which provider is best for you or your loved one.
- How long has this provider been serving our community?
- Does this provider supply literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, fees, and funding sources?
- How does this provider select and train its employees? Does it protect its workers with written personnel policies, benefit packages, and malpractice insurance?
- Are nurses or therapists required to evaluate the patient’s home care needs? If so, what does this entail? Do they consult the patient’s physicians and family members?
- Does this provider include the patient and the family members in developing the plan of care?
- Is the patient’s course of treatment documented, detailing the specific tasks to be carried out by each professional caregiver?
- Does this provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients are receiving in their homes? If so, how often do these individuals make visits? Who can the patient and family members call with questions or complaints? How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems?
- What are the financial procedures of this provider? Does the provider furnish written statements explaining all of the costs and payment plan options associated with home care?
- What procedures does this provider have in place to handle emergencies? Are its caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
- How does this provider ensure patient confidentiality?
- Does this agency provide liability and workers comp insurance for all employees?
Patrick Hartsfield | Oak Lawn Funeral Home
Barrancas National Cemetery is a beautiful, tranquil spot. A fitting final resting place for the brave men and women who fought, and too often died, for the freedoms we all enjoy.
As Pensacolans we have a special affinity for our service men and women, whether retired or active duty. We’ve all watched in awe as the Blue Angels performed seemingly impossible aerobatics. We’ve marveled at the exhibits in the Naval Air Museum, a world class facility. The majority of us know, work with, are related to, or are veterans of the United States Armed Forces. We understand the sacrifices that were made for this great country because Pensacola is inexorably tied to the United States Military.
On the surface it seems as though we’ve got our veterans covered. After all we’re a proud, historic military town and NAS Pensacola is home to perhaps the nicest National Cemetery in the country. Unfortunately that’s not often the case as there are many misconceptions surrounding VA burial benefits.
A recent survey shows that 60% of veterans mistakenly believe the VA pays funeral, cremation and cemetery expenses for all veterans. In truth, reimbursement of funeral or cremation services is limited and only apply to those meeting strict guidelines.
While the VA does provide burial in a national cemetery for any member of the Armed Forces who dies while on active duty or any veteran who was honorably discharged, in most cases they do not cover funeral or cremation costs. Not even the casket. Furthermore, qualifying for VA benefits does not mean they come automatically. In order to receive veteran burial benefits, they must be requested, generally in writing, and this can take considerable time and effort.
Over 1,700 veterans pass away each day so it’s important for us to understand the facts about VA burial benefits. We at Oak Lawn Funeral Home encourage all veterans to take advantage of the unique benefits and extraordinary savings offered by us through Dignity Memorial.