Anxiety produces a great Scrabble score, but not much else positive.
Two daughters faced a care partner's nightmare.
They had to move their exceedingly reluctant mother from her condo to a room where she could get more care. They shuddered when they remembered how they had moved her a few years ago, and this was worse. Proud and independent in the past, she was mourning her many losses.
She refused to see the room, so the daughters accepted it on her behalf. They made multitudes of crucial decisions concerning what to keep, what would make the room comfortable, what would fit--what mattered. They knew they had to get this right.
They brought her into the finished room, and tried to gauge her response. It wasn't until the next day, she looked around and said, "The girls did a good job." The daughters let out a collective sigh of relief.
Anxiety is the first "a" in care partner. The job can be replete with anxiety. Here are just a few:
- This is a degenerative disease--what will happen next? Will I be able to cope when the changes come? Can I handle this emotionally?
- Will I be able to do everything that's needed? Will I be able to handle all the demands?
- Am I making the correct decisions?
- Which medications, treatments are best for my loved one?
- Will the money last?
- My elder is unhappy and manipulative. Will my patience last?
- Mom is going to have to move. Where is the right place for her?
- Are the staff treating her with respect and caring for her well?
This is just a sampling. Obviously, no one can live continually with this kind of stress. How can a care partner keep from slipping into the abyss of anxiety?
- Get information. You wouldn't sit down and try to eat a whole meal in one gulp, and neither can you understand everything in the first few weeks. Talk to doctors, experts in the field, friends with similar experiences, and read, read, read. Not everything you read or hear will be helpful or applicable to your situation, so learn to discern.
- Get help. This is not a journey you need to take by yourself. If there are family members who can relieve you, call on them. If not, look to hire some respite help for a few hours a week. If that isn't possible, look to friends or other volunteers. So often, people want to help but have no idea what you need. Tell them.
- Get support. The words, "I know what you're feeling" from someone who not only knows, but has been through it themselves (or is going through it now) are invaluable. Just knowing that someone understands can give you the strength to go on. And here's a thought--maybe you can be that person for someone else.
Anxiety in some form is inevitable. There are times when this adventure is daunting. Recognize this, and look for the tools that will reduce your stress.
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