These days, it seems that everywhere I turn, I find caregivers working with unselfish devotion to the people they serve. Caregiving can be formal (i.e., health care professionals working in the hospital, long-term care and hospice industries) or informal (i.e., family members providing care in the home) but it is always an act of service. In honor of National Caregivers day and all the hard working caregivers serving seniors and the disabled, here is a special blog to express my appreciation and thankfulness for all you do!
Working with individuals with dementia can be very physically and emotionally demanding. That is why self-care is so important. While paid caregivers may have access to training and co-workers to support them, unpaid caregivers seldom have these resources. Fortunately, for those seeking guidance on how to identify and redefine their needs and responsibilities as unpaid caregivers in the home, there is a helpful book filled with practical tips on the subject. Your Caregiver Relationship Contract (2019), by Debra Hallisey, is available through Amazon. Her book offers a peaceful framework for caregivers to change an established relationship with a parent who still regards the child caring for them as their little one, not an adult with needs and obligations of her own. Topics covered include how to deal with guilt and anger, setting boundaries, building a support network and strategies for difficult conversations. Here are some of the tips Ms. Hallisey shares:
- Start important conversations in the car or while sharing an intimate experience with the person you are caring for, such as baking together or combing hair.
- Bring up a topic up multiple times in varied settings and eventually your loved one’s no may become a yes.
- Use “I” words (I need help) and don’t blame.
- When setting a boundary, be honest and direct. Start the conversation with an expression of caring.
- Use words that validate your loved one’s choices. Words and tone of voice matter.
- Compassion fatigue is real. Combat it through self-care.
Questions? Let Jane know.
Jane Fearn-Zimmer is an Elder and Disability Law, Taxation, and Trusts and Estates attorney. She dedicates her practice to serving clients in the areas of elder and disability law, special needs planning, asset protection, tax and estate planning and estate administration. She also serves as Chair of the Elder & Disability Law section of the NJSBA.