As featured in North Hawaii News April 9, 2018
Do you know somebody who’s struggling with the role of caring for a parent, sibling or spouse? I have had an accelerated number of conversations lately with people who are concerned for a loved one who is in a state of chronic stress while providing care for a family member. The caregiver often pushes offers of support aside, feeling either protective of the delicately balanced world they’ve created in order to keep their loved one comfortable, or frustrated by the challenges facing them.
One of the most natural beliefs caregivers establish is that nobody else can provide care they way they can. They’ve been through the ups and downs and learned how to handle all of the variables that may come their way. Since all of those lessons are too difficult to pass on to an alternative caregiver, it simply seems easier to handle all of the care on their own.
I completely understand this way of thinking, as I have had the same issues with my business. I lean on my experience and ability to connect with the kupuna I care for, so it is difficult to let go and trust others to come in and provide the same level of care. I can get so caught up in the small details that make every little thing special for our kupuna that I can’t imagine anyone else doing it the way I feel is necessary.
In my experience, the number one relief that allows me to step back and trust others to my precious charges is to have systems in place that the other caregivers can work from. I’ve written out the daily schedule, created procedures for most tasks and trained them in the hands-on care and the philosophy that surrounds the care offered. I have also seen that alternative ways of doing things can bring positive energy into the dynamic.
In a home environment, family members may not think to formalize the care of their loved one. All of the information swirls around in their heads and they pluck it from their memory when the appropriate situation requires a solution. If you want to be a helpful support to the primary caregiver in your life, I suggest you learn about resources that can help systematize their situation and help set them up.
By getting their caregiving practices clarified and organized, they not only get the mental break of having to re-think it every day, they also know they can step away for a breather. The person receiving care will still get their primary needs provided for, such as medications and eating/bathing routines, so the caregiver can rest more easily.
Another way that you can support your friend or family member is to encourage them to go to the Conference for Family Caregivers that will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. April 20 at the Sheraton in Keauhou. The Hawaii Community Caregiver Network is working very hard to make sure that there are numerous resources all in one place to help support the family caregiver.
I am so touched by the number of people in our community who are looking out for their increasing number of friends and family in the caregiving role. Please continue to gently offer your support, without judgment, in a variety of ways. Preparing a meal, staying with their loved one while they go for a walk or sending a lighthearted text may just be the thing they need. Knowing they aren’t alone means much more to them than you may realize.