Sunday, 22 January 2012

Reduce the burden and Increase the joy

Matru devo bhava……(Treat your mother as God) 
Pithru devo bhava……(Treat your  father  as  God)…..
Most of us follow these teachings very well.  We get so immersed in this that we start to ignore ourselves.  In the various roles we have, the role of caregiver takes centre stage, as it should, but also eclipsing all else – as it should not.   This is when caregiving starts feeling like a burden.
This happens because we often do not ask for help or accept help.  Perhaps it seems wrong to us that we have to rely on others for what we consider as our duty.  Perhaps it makes us feel incompetent that we cannot perform what we consider to be our tasks. But caregiving for a dementia patient is a very long term activity and it cannot be done by any one person alone.  You need to ask for help.
Almost everyone who has been a caregiver has been scared, angry, depressed and impatient with their patient.  Sometimes the anger is vented out on another family member or friend.   Many of us have felt resentful at times with the sacrifices we have to make because we need to care for our parents while our peers are enjoying their lives.  There are times when we have all felt anger towards the person we are caring for and blamed them for everything that is going wrong.  Then there is also guilt that we feel for feeling all this towards our parents who are in a helpless condition.   There is no cure for this disease yet and that makes us feel defeated.  
These are too many negative emotions and it can drain the happiness out of a person.  No one can carry on functioning like this for long.  The easiest way to break out of this is to ask for help from others and accept that you cannot do everything yourself.    You need to get more persons involved in the caregiving or you will experience burn-out.
Get other family members involved in the caregiving.  Make other relatives (extended family) baby-sit your patient while you take a break.  Go to the mall, go for a movie or out with friends.  This will also ensure that other relatives realise what you are dealing with on daily basis.   
Appoint a helper for the caregiving. It will take a lot of burden off your shoulders and leave you with more time to do other things.  All helpers will need to be trained by you for your particular situation.  This training can be a chore but you will find the physically demanding work reduced within a week of training.  Dont worry about the expense. Try and get one atleast for part of the day so you dont feel overwhelmed.
Do not fret that everything is not done perfectly every single day.  Give yourself a break. Sometimes it is okay if the washing is not done or you have to make do with sandwiches for dinner.  
Don’t give up on your personal time. Perhaps you enjoy a workout at the gym or you have a hobby.   Continue to pursue your interests. Only if you feel personally fulfilled can you look after others happily.   
Music can be uplifting.  When you feel angry and depressed, try not to be in that frame of mind for long.  Remember to play some music that you love – it could be classical or old film songs – a little music will make you feel lighter and will ensure that your mood changes for the better.
It will help also to remember that this caregiving is your seva to your elders.  It is considered as an offering to God and better than any puja or prayer.   With a little help from others you will find you are able to spend quality time with your patient and other family members and you can be a happier caregiver.

1 comment:

  1. Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimers disease is a challenging position to be stable in my work, however, there are some important steps that I can do to make it easier on myself and my loved one.

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