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Caregiving

On an airplane, an oxygen mask descends in front of you. What do you do? As we all know, the first rule is to put on our own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important – and one of the most forgotten – things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit.

Providing care to someone who needs your assistance can be very rewarding. However, it can also be taxing, and caregiver stress is common. Caregiver stress is the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. Individuals who experience the most caregiver stress are the most vulnerable to a decline in their own health. If you don’t take care of yourself and stay well, you won’t be able to help anyone else.

Some of the common signs of caregiver stress include the following:
– Feeling sad or moody
– Having low energy level
– Feeling like you don’t have any time to yourself
– Seeing your friends or relatives less often than you used to
– Losing interest in your hobbies or the things you used to do with friends or family
– Having trouble sleeping, or not wanting to get out of bed in the morning
– Becoming easily irritated or angered

The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most capable person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of available help and support. These tips have helped others deal with caregiver stress:
– Geriatric care management. Geriatric care managers specialize in aging related issues. They can help families by assessing their needs and identifying the best services available to meet those needs. This could include information on respite care, help in the home, connections to community resources, financial management, advocacy, living arrangements and support groups.
– Contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) for information on resources in your area.
– Accept help. Prepare a list of ways others can help you, and let the helper choose what they would like to do. One person might offer to grocery shop and another might take your loved one for a walk.
– Stay connected. Make an effort to stay in touch with family and friends. Set aside time each week to socialize, even if it’s just for a walk. Whenever possible, make plans to get out of the house.
– Commit to staying healthy. Find time to be physically active and don’t neglect your need for sleep. See your doctor and tell him or her that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you might have.
– Avoid feeling guilty. Feeling guilty is normal, but no one is a “perfect” caregiver. You’re doing the best you can at any given time. Don’t feel guilty about asking for help.

If you are like many caregivers, you have a hard time asking for help and feeling like you have to do everything yourself. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to feeling isolated, frustrated and even depressed. Don’t make that mistake. Take advantage of the many resources and tools available. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.

Kathy Weston
Preceptor Health Care
Director of Hospice Operations

Author

Choosing To Be Happy

Many of you may not be aware that I do a lot of reading. I do the required reading for my position and in my spare time, I read books and I have my favorite magazine articles. I visit a website “Inspired” www.seniorlivingmag.com for people who are 55+. I found an article about happiness and choosing to be happy. The article touched me, and I’d like to summarize the article for you.

You do not need to deserve happiness. Happiness is free. There are no conditions.

What do you think about the first sentence? Compare the first sentence to the next two sentences. Happiness and being able to focus on happiness is important – your happiness, the happiness of your friends and family and the happiness of the people around you.

Happiness is a gift to you and no others. What happens when you are happy? What happens around you? Think about it. When you are happy, the people around you are happy. Things seem to lighten up and the atmosphere changes.

On a scale of one to 100 percent how open are you to happiness? Challenge yourself. What would it take for you to be 100 percent open to happiness? Let’s start today. Set your intentions. I will be happier and I want to ensure those around me will be aware of the possibility that they, too, can be happy. Can you become a “happiness agent?”

The article challenges us in four area of happiness: being accepting, receptive, grateful and present. Today, I will be more accepting of myself or others and of my life. Today, I will be better at receiving help, love and support from others. Today, I will be grateful for everything that is happening in my life right now. Sometimes this one can be difficult. Today, I will be open to the idea that I am really in the right place at the right time.

Are you up for the challenge to experiment with happiness? I am. After all, happiness is not a search, it’s a choice. Choose to be happy!

Kathy Weston
Director of Hospice Operations

Annual Butterfly Release Event

In July each year, families and friends come together to honor their loved ones during our Annual Butterfly Release Event. Taking place at our Germantown Serenity Hospice Courtyard, dozens of beautiful butterflies are awakened and released to commemorate the spirit and strength of those who passed on.

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Taking Care of the Caregiver

Caring for a loved one can be very wearing on the caregiver. To better take care of others, you must first take care of yourself. Take a break at this coffee hour and join others who support a senior. Learn how to get the compassionate, supportive resources you need. You may just find that life got a little easier.

There will be an activity provided on-site so feel free to bring your loved one with you.

Please RSVP to Pam by March 19th at 262-376-7700