Managing the Emotional and Physical Stress of Caring for a Loved One
Tips to manage the silent emotional and physical stress of caring for a loved one
(ARA) – More than 34 million people are caring for an aging parent in the United States today. It is estimated one in two of these caregivers are baby boomers, adults in the “sandwich generation,” caught between caring for their aging parents while raising families of their own.
Caring for a loved one puts a great deal of strain on caregivers, taking a toll on everything, including their health, relationships and finances. Balancing caregiving with managing households and busy careers has become a struggle for millions of Americans and is made worse when the loved one has incontinence.
Caring.com, a leading online destination for people caring for aging parents, and TENA, the worldwide leader in the management of bladder control issues, conducted an in-depth survey on the impact of incontinence on caregivers.
The survey revealed that 65 percent of Caring.com members are dealing with incontinence in a parent, grandparent or spouse and three out of four caregivers are tackling two to three extra loads of laundry each week as a result of incontinence. About one third of caregivers find incontinence difficult to handle and 42 percent said dealing with their loved one’s incontinence sometimes leads to depression.
“Incontinence often can be frustrating and overwhelming for a person caring for an aging parent or loved one, but there are steps caregivers can take to meet this challenge,” says Ann Cason, caregiving expert, author and founder and director of Circles of Care. “These include considering all available treatment options, discussing incontinence in a straightforward and factual way, and asking for physical or emotional support if you need it.”
Caregivers should remember they are not alone and can rely on others to help them through difficult times. Some tips to help manage their loved one’s incontinence include:
* Establish a dialogue: It’s important to be able to talk with your loved one about their incontinence. Over time, incontinence symptoms may change or get worse. If you share an open line of communication, you’ll be better equipped to manage these changes by using different products and adjusting your care management plan. Caring.com has a variety of resources with helpful information on how caregivers can talk to their loved one about difficult issues, including who should do the talking, when to have the conversation, where to have it, what to say and how to avoid emotional land mines.
* Create a routine: Having a standard routine helps make it easier for you and your loved one to predict when they may need to use the bathroom. Eating meals around the same time each day, drinking a steady amount of water and keeping a journal of bathroom visits can help in managing incontinence.
* Be prepared: Make sure your loved one has plenty of time to go to the bathroom before you leave the house. Bring a bag with extra incontinence products, wipes and a change of clothes. Being prepared not only helps in the event of an accident, it also helps your loved one to feel more confident and secure.
* Use the right tools: Not all absorbent products are created equal. Absorbent products are designed to meet a variety of different care needs and personal situations. Take the time to research what products are best for your loved one at http://www.tena.us. Also, http://www.tena.us provides caregivers with money- and time-saving product tips that help them provide high quality care without breaking the bank.
For caregivers, dealing with your loved one’s incontinence brings added strain to an already stressful situation. Here are some tips for caregivers to deal with the emotional effects of their loved one’s incontinence:
* Unwind: Taking time for yourself will help reduce stress, elevate your mood and, ultimately, help make you a better caregiver. Buy a new book, join a club or go out to dinner and give yourself some time to relax.
* Maintain a healthy lifestyle: It’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits with caregiving responsibilities keeping you busy. Incorporating a nutritious diet and exercise routine into your daily schedule will help give you extra energy and reduce stress. Try simple things like adding a healthy salad to your meal or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
* Ask for help: Caring for a loved one by yourself can be an overwhelming task. Ask family members to pitch in by picking up supplies or keeping your loved one company while you take a break. Don’t be afraid to call a friend to listen when you’ve had a bad day, or to network with other caregivers who are dealing with similar issues.
* Know your rights: The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants legal rights to some employed caregivers at organizations with 50 or more employees. FMLA guarantees that employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year to care for a seriously ill parent, spouse or child. Ask your human resources department for more information on programs to help you balance your career and caregiving.
Courtesy of ARAcontent