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Posts Tagged ‘caregiver’

When you hear the word caregiver, what image comes to mind? Maybe what you see is someone in your family, someone you work with, a friend, or even you.  The reality is approximately 25% of adults in the United States report being a caregiver to someone with a long-term illness or disability in the past 30 days. The caregiving role can look different for everyone. Some people feel that being a caregiver makes them feel good about themselves, has taught them new skills, and has strengthened their relationship with their loved one. However, many people find themselves in a caregiving role that has a negative impact on their financial health, physical health, and mental health. In fact, there is such a concern for caregivers that  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refer to caregiving as a public health priority.

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In addition to the health of the caregiver, these negative impacts can affect the care that is being given as well. Caregivers who experience compassion fatigue can feel hopeless, resentful, less patient, and lose empathy. They develop a negative view of their caregiving role. To be a good caregiver, you first need to care for yourself. One way to take care of yourself is to have a respite plan. The term respite means to have consistent breaks from your caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can be provided by family, friends, or outside agencies, and the services can range widely. In the January episode of the Healthy Aging Network , Dr. Teresa Young shares the following tips to get started with making a respite plan.

  1. Focus on Strengths – What are the things that have helped you make it through to this point. Is it that you are organized? Is it a sense of humor? Are you flexible?
  2. Determine the needs – Once you know your strengths, the next step is to determine what help you really need. Is it transportation? Could you use help with household chores? Do you just need time away?
  3. Be specific – Make sure to be specific when expressing needs.

For some who are already overwhelmed with responsibilities, the idea of seeking respite or creating a plan can feel like one more task that is added to their plate. Caregivers often lack a respite plan because they simply don’t know where to start. The Ohio State University Extension’s Caregiver Support Network is offering two free webinars on February 17th, 2021. The workshops are open to anyone and will focus on creating a respite plan, sharing caregiving experiences, and sharing resources. To register for the workshop, go to go.osu.edu/caregiver2021. To learn more about the Caregiver Support Network, please contact Laura Akgerman at akgerman.4@osu.edu.

Writer: Kathy Tutt, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Emily Marrison, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Coshocton County, marrison.12@osu.edu

References:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) Caregiving for Family and Friends -A Public Health Issue https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/caregiver-brief.html accessed January 2021

Day, J., Anderson, R. Davis, L. (2014) Compassion Fatigue in Adult Daughter Caregivers of a Parent with Dementia, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Vol 35, Issue 10

Schulz, R., Sherwood, P. (2008) Physical and Mental Health Effects of Family Caregiving. American Journal of Nursing, Sep: Vol 108, Issue 9, pgs. 23-27

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cardinal-2524695_1920THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. This has been a constant sound in our house lately.  There is a poor cardinal who sees his reflection in our front window and tries to attack himself.  Upon reflection, I have realized that I am like that cardinal. I repeat the same series of actions over and over and expect a different result and am usually surprised when the results are not different.

There are many situations in life where I seem to follow the same patterns—in relationships, at work, as a caregiver, trying to get healthier, and at the grocery store where I wander endlessly trying to make sure I have everything I need in my cart.  Do you find yourself in a similar situation as me and the cardinal? THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK.

The Stages of Change Model, developed by Prochaska and DiClemente, helps us to understand that we can make changes to our behavior patterns when we are able to recognize that it is a cyclical pattern and that there is just not a beginning and an end.  Some people are able to “stop cold turkey” when making behavior changes, but for most of us, we are like that cardinal and return again and again, hoping for different results or we take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

The 6 stages of change that we move through are:

  • Pre-contemplation: no desire to change behavior, we don’t see it as a problem.
  • Contemplation: aware of the problem but still is not committed or motivated to change.
  • Preparation: wants to change, but has not yet started.
  • Action: change has begun and behavior has been maintained for fewer than six months.
  • Maintenance: behavior change has gone six months and beyond, and the adopted behavior has become a habit.
  • Relapse: we returns to previous behavior(s).

Changing our outlook can be difficult, but it can also be very rewarding and beneficial to not repeating the same behaviors over and over.  As I work towards my own personal growth, I sometimes find that I have to “step outside of myself”. It is important to look at how my behavior affects others. I have also found that it is helpful to have a friend be my accountability partner and share with me where they see that I am stuck in the cycle of change.

Sometimes you will also find yourself in the role as an accountability partner for another OR you may find yourself helplessly watching as someone hits the glass over and over.  I have watched the poor cardinal for months hit the window again and again.  I tried to look up ways to stop his behavior on the internet.  Nothing worked.  I feel bad for the poor little bird, and sometimes I feel frustrated that I cannot help. If you are a caregiver, you may yourself in a similar situation. As an accountability partner, it is key to recognize the person you care for must take charge of making their own behavior change. Being able to step back and offer support without getting too emotionally involved can be hard to do.  I cannot change what another does but I can change my approach to my friend or family member as I support them as they work through the stages of change cycle.

As I write this, the cardinal is going at his reflection in the window again. Thank goodness, I do not have to be like the cardinal and can take small steps each day in  a variety of situations to change the outcome of whatever I am currently facing.  Even though there may be days where I am like the bird and hit the window, I do not have to stay stuck in the THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. THUNK.

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed By: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Belmont County

References:

Cherry, Kendra, The 6 Stages of Behavior Change: The Transtheoretical or Stages of Change Model, Very  https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stages-of-change-2794868

Behavioral Change Models, The Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories6.html

Dellifield, J. Remley, D., Baker, S.Bates, J.S., Communication Strategies to Support a Family Member with Diabetes, 2019, https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5322

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/cardinal-bird-teacup-trees-red-2524695/ 

 

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