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Friday, September 17, 2010

Caregiver: Advice

Caregiver: Identify Your Need for Help, and Get It

If you are a caregiver, how do you know if the stress is becoming too much for you? The following is a list of yes or no questions.  Take a moment to look through these and identify those that are current or potential problems for you and mark them "Yes".

  1. You don't get out much anymore.                             Yes         No
  2. You argue with the person you care for.                   Yes         No
  3. You have conflicts with other family members.          Yes         No
  4. You abuse drugs, alcohol, or medications.                Yes         No
  5. Your appetite has changed.                                      Yes         No
  6. You isolate yourself from others.                              Yes         No
  7. You behave in a compulsive manner or are overly focused on minor details.                                                                                Yes         No
  8. You feel listless; you lack energy.                             Yes         No
  9. You feel more angry, anxious, or worried than usual Yes         No
  10. You have a difficult time controlling your emotions.   Yes         No
  11. You have a hard time concentrating.                         Yes         No
  12. You have physical symptoms of anxiety, such as an upset stomach, headaches, or a racing heart.                                                             Yes         No
  13. You often forget things.                                            Yes         No
  14. You are clumsy or accident-prone.                           Yes         No
  15. You have self-destructive or suicidal thoughts.           Yes         No
  16. You sleep more or less than usual.                            Yes         No
  17. You never seem to get enough rest.                           Yes        No
  18. You feel guilty about your situation.                           Yes       No

If you answered "Yes" to even a few of the questions above, you probably need assistance. So, now what?  Here are some tips on what assistant to seek out and some ideas of where to get it:

A. Join a Support Group. Just a couple of the groups in Naples include:

  1. The Alzheimer's Support Network: 239-262-8388
  2. National Alliance for the Mentally Ill/NAMI: 239-434-6726
  3. Mental Health Association of SWFL: 239-261-5405

B. Ask for Help. This is probably the simplest answer; however, many caregivers just don't do it. Help from your family or friends could give you time, emotional support or financial assistance. If you don't ask for help, they probably don't know you need it.

C. Be Prepared:

  1. You may never need to place your loved one in an assisted living facility (ALF), but if you do, making this decision when you have the time to do so, and are not pressured because of an emergency, will allow you to make the best decision possible.
  2. If appropriate, it can be helpful to identify, research and consider in-home care, meal delivery services, respite care, adult day care and/or transportation services.

4. Take Time for Yourself: This is very difficult, but scheduling time for yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved ones. Maintain your interests. Keep balance in your life. Eat well, exercise, rest, and take time off.

5. Be Realistic. Recognize what you can and cannot do, and don't feel guilty when something is outside of your ability.

6. Family Communication: When tensions and misunderstandings develop (and they will), address them quickly. Although it will be difficult this is the best course of action. Avoiding such difficult situations will only make them worse.

To reach Dr.Saldukas for questions or assistance, call 239-293-0230.
4:11 pm edt 

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