A Training Program for the Family Caregiver
Go to the episode webpage to download the lesson worksheet
When it is Time to Say Good Bye
In the previous lesson of caregiver school you learned about the natural process the physical body goes through as it prepares for death. This lesson I focus on the psychological and emotional needs of the dying and those that care for them. As a hospice social worker my focus was on the emotional well being of the caregiver. It is difficult to let go, to allow your loved one to do what they need to do to die peacefully. But you can help to ease this transition and allow you to say goodbye.
There comes a time when we must begin the process of letting go of our loved one. When the caregiving journey is coming to an end. Accepting that the journey is ending can be emotionally overwhelming triggering strong feelings of guilt, sadness and fear. But it also can be a time of healing, reconciliation and closure for everyone. As you enter this last stage there are things that you can do or learn that might help ease the stress.
Caring for the Caregiver
In today's busy world we all suffer from times of stress and anxiety. Add the burden of being a family caregiver and you may feel constantly overwhelmed by stress. Understanding what stress is and what causes it are the first steps to managing it. Family caregivers who are unable to manage their stress will find themselves tired, constantly frustrated, irritable or depressed.
Managing Difficult Behaviors
Usually family caregivers are dealing with changes in behavior or cognitive functioning long before any diagnosis of dementia is made. Most diseases that cause dementia will follow a predictable path of disease progression and knowing the stages can help family caregivers plan and prepare.
Having an accurate diagnosis and knowing the stages helps but doesn't answer the question, "so what do I do when my husband keeps repeating himself?"
Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
So you are beginning to notice some strange behavior or troubling symptoms. Your loved one is not just forgetting things but does not seem to know or remember. They are not just confused but lost. You know that this is more then just old age more then just a typical "senior moment". So go in search of a diagnosis that explains the symptoms and behaviors. Most are givien a broad diagnosis of dementia but not a lot of help or information on the cause or the treatment.
Long Distance Caregiving
Long distance caregiving can be quite stressful responsibility. Managing affairs from a far and worrying about the "what if's" can be overwhelming.
A long distance caregiver needs to know what to look for to know if they need to step in and take action or to stand back and leave well enough alone. There are some warning signs. Sometimes changes are more obvious to the one at a distance then those who are there daily. But careful not to minimize a warning sign dismissing it as just an off day.