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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

Self-care

Why it's important to balance your own needs with the needs of the person you're looking after.

Kristina McLaughlin

"The number one is managing how you’re feeling and where you’re at and what fuel you have in your tank." - Kristina McLaughlin, care coordinator

video (1 min 4 sec)
transcript

I’d say the number one is managing how you’re feeling and where you’re at and what fuel you have in your tank. Which is probably one of the biggest things. The biggest pieces of feedback I get from caregivers is. “Everybody wants my loved one to go home, and everyone’s geared up to help us at home, but does anybody have any idea how I’m coping and what I’m feeling and what I’m going through and how exhausted I feel? So, for caregivers I ask them to sit down and think about what a normal everyday experience was for them, what it is for them right now, and then what we’re going to do to build in those periods where they can rest. Or where they can be with their friends and be with their family. And I ask them, “Is it possible that we can do that? Or is it possible that you can do that? And try to have that established before you loved one’s coming home. Make a schedule and know who your people are that you can go to.”

Madeleine Roske

"I have no control over how he may be in six months, but today, I’m pretty sure I know what he’ll be like when I pick him up downstairs at 3:30." - Madeleine Roske, caregiver

video (1 min 22 sec)
transcript

Well, I began reading – I’m not sure how his name is pronounced… I have a friend and she says it differently – but I call Epictetus. And I read Epictetus quite frequently. And… a Stoic… and he’s very down to earth, you know. You’ll be happy if you think about what you can control and basically forget about what you can’t. And I found that very helpful. I recommend it to anyone who’s looking after someone with dementia. Because, as I said, I have no control over how he may be in six months, but today, I’m pretty sure I know what he’ll be like when I pick him up downstairs at 3:30. And I know what our routine is. And we’re happy doing that routine. So, for me, that’s a sensible, logical way to make this time as good as it can be for both of us. I like to be happy. So does he. So, I think to just do it day by day and keep the system sound all around you, and you just work your way through it.

Jim

"Rather than do four or five things in a day, I try to just limit two at the most." - Jim, caregiver

video (47 sec)
transcript

Rather than do four or five things in a day, I try to just limit two at the most. And I found that helps. So, these are things you learn as you go along. And I keep a daily record of what goes on, and when I do that, I can see what may lead to some of the, I guess, say, “bad” days. Too much activity, type thing. Maybe my tone of voice on that particular day. (I try everyday, but the odd day I go off the rail a bit.) But I find that really helps. So you can keep track of where she’s been and where she’s going.

Gord Schacter

"They start neglecting their own health because they’re spending so much time taking care of their loved one that they themselves don’t get care " - Gord Schacter, family physician

video (49 sec)
transcript

The family… the caregiver often has health issues. And it’s… we call it stress, if you want to use the term… burnout, fatigue issues. Often what happens is they start neglecting their own health because they’re spending so much time taking care of their loved one that they themselves don’t get care themselves. And it’s really important for them to find that balance of the need because if they… if the other family member who they’re taking care of is – for the lack of a better term – sicker… more problems… and they get sick themselves, then everything falls apart. And suddenly we’re dealing with an emergent situation of trying to provide care in the home or look at a quick placement into residential care settings, which is always extremely stressful for everybody.

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