But Who Cares for the Caregiver?

Caring for a sick family member can be tolling, even causing caregivers to sometimes become sicker than those they are caring for. According to the American Journal of Nursing (2008), “Caregiving has all the features of a chronic stress experience.” We’re in a generation where life expectancy has increased and medical advancements have moved forward at a rapid rate. Although these two facts are positive in and of themselves, when combined, this translates to people living longer but in an unhealthy state.

Dialysis, for instance, can potentially add 5-10 years to a person’s life span. However, this also means the individual is visiting a dialysis center 2-3 days a week and exhausted from the procedure, leading to poor quality of life in their last years. This also means someone is likely at home with this person and caring for their daily needs. Most times, that person is a loved one who is witnessing the agonizing decline of a parent, partner, sibling or other loved one.

This can be particularly difficult for those who have no idea how to navigate their roles as caregivers. Most people are muddling through each day trying to figure it out, often feeling overwhelmed and isolated. Those who have a medical background are blessed in these circumstances but even then, there is the emotional stress – anxiety, depression, exhaustion, feelings of grief and loss – of caring for someone you hold dear. So how to go about this thing called caregiving?

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Thankfully, resources are available, and knowledge from those who have been through the trials and successes of caregiving is priceless. One such book, which is listed on http://www.caring.com’s list of best books for caregiving in 2017 is Role Reversal, written by Iris Waichler. The book focuses specifically on the process of caring for parents while also attending to self-care.

 

For free information on caregiving, visit the author’s Facebook page. Details about Role Reversal can be found at www.iriswaichler.

 

Feel free to contact me for additional resources and support:

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.iriswaichler.com

 

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When Listening Heals

pics-373“I never thought I’d need to see someone like YOU,” is something I hear from time to time. They don’t expect to ever talk to a “shrink” and they swear they’re not “crazy” but alas, they have a hard time reconciling how they ended up on my couch.

People often seem perplexed and disappointed that, by their description, they’ve arrived at such a point of desperation that they need to consult with a professional. They were confident they could “handle it” on their own and couldn’t understand what went wrong.  Yet only here, in our self-proclaimed progressive society, do we see the reliance on others as a shameful act. So for those who don’t necessarily believe in the power of counseling, it has taken a lot for them to pull together their courage and strip away their pride to see me.

Yet, as I’ve come to learn, listening is an art and gift that has healed over the ages and across many cultures. From etchings of hieroglyphics and those who interpreted them, to pastors’ laying of hands, curanderos’ use of herbs and natural elements, and the sweating out of emotional toxins in temazcals, there has always been some form of storytelling and intentional listening.

The art of listening is not an unusual or foreign practice, and in fact, the beauty of finding healing through someone’s readiness to carefully hold each of our wounds and tend to them, is in our very nature.

Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Real?

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The weather outside is frightful. Sidewalks are littered with gray, slushy snow. The cold is bitter and comparable to needles slapping you in the face. The sun refuses to come out and when it does, it makes a very brief guest appearance, shattering any delusions of warmth.

Winter is hard. There’s no other way to put it. I told myself the change in weather brings in new fashion, but reality is, I don’t care. I’m a tomboy. I do however love boots, so I tried to deal by justifying that winter’s the perfect reason to buy a new pair, or mayber 3 or 4. But that only helps so much. Sometimes, when I think of how dreadfully long I’ll have to endure the cold, I count and recount November, December and January, like the total will change or as if winter is exclusive to only these 3 months. As if.

The holidays are a nice distraction, but as soon as January hits, time seems to freeze and spring begins to sound like a childhood fairytale. To add to the gloominess, some people might suffer from vitamin D deficiency around this time, something that can add to feelings of low energy and motivation.

Many people I’ve spoken to agree that winter is yucky and annoying. And they all enthusiastically second my proclamation that all people affected by anything lower than 40 degree weather should be awarded beach houses, just for the winter of course.

For some, however, deprivation of sunlight and warmth is far more impactful than transforming into a whiner or conjuring up dreams of beach houses. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is not a fleeting feeling, and it’s not just the tendency to want to eat a little more or stay under the covers a little longer. People who suffer from SAD have a change in overall mood, lose interest in things they used to enjoy and have trouble concentrating.

Loss of sunlight resulting in disruption of the body’s biological rhythm might be to blame. Sometimes, people I’ve met who suffer from SAD minimize their symptoms. They think it’s silly that they’re having a hard time adapting to the change in seasons. But it’s not their fault. It’s depression, something that should never be ignored or minimized. Good news is there are treatments, including natural ones like light therapy, exercise programs and nutrition options. Even though there are some winter enthusiasts out there, I believe many of us are on some spectrum of being annoyed with cold weather to becoming depressed by it. If you’re seeing a pattern of mood symptoms returning every year, it may be time to speak to a therapist. Winter is hard and we don’t have to pretend it’s not. Believe me, I’ve tried.