I am very intentional when blogging. Much of what I have learned, either through my professional career or caregiving experiences, lies a hope that the knowledge will help all who read my work. I stand on the premise that it is vital that lived experiences are shared. There is something about hearing information from the horses’ mouths. This is my mission!
We know caregiving has many twists and turns. We also know that twists and turns can catch a caregiver off guard. They often do not have all the tools in their toolbox to navigate the journey of care and isolation. This is where I come in!
While away at my sorority conference last week, I had the pleasure of spending some time with an elderly neighbor I lived next door to in Toledo, Ohio, in the 1980s. She now lives in New Orleans with her daughter, who is her caregiver. Let me just say, God sent me to visit them!
It reminded me of the scripture… Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
They needed “Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate” for a host of reasons.
One of the first observations I noted was a sense of isolation.
If you observe in a caregiving space the volleying for one’s attention (for example-like when a visitor appears), this is a classic sign and the time to discuss boundaries and expectations of those living the caregiving journey.
Taking care of self is first on the list, especially if the caregiver has health challenges, which is the case in this dialogue. While they had each other, they did not have a ‘real out’…meaning the ability to understand the atmosphere of feeling alone and the need for self-care. The needs of the caregiver were not managed, causing a ripple effect of discord in the caregiving space.
The outcome is… anything said or done, prompted a non-verbal and sometimes verbal debate that eventually got on each other’s nerves. The tones were sharp, sometimes flat when responding. In cases like these, required care becomes delayed. Stress levels increase and next comes burnout.
Supporting someone on oxygen can be challenging. If you are caring for someone on oxygen all the time, forgetfulness is common as well as energy deficits. One must understand, someone with a diagnosis that is attached to respiratory disease cannot do the things they once did.
Caregivers need to understand this!
It is necessary to determine what they can do safely. Autonomy and having a sense of control while aging is important. Remember, if they could, they would!
As much as self-sufficiency can be had safely, allow it. Do not do what your loved one can do for themselves, but make sure you are paying attention in case you need to step in.
As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, know that there are actual adjustments that take place, mentally and physically, when living life on oxygen.
Caregivers must understand the journey in a supportive way and practice self-care. It is vital. When this knowledge is known, the level of stress and anxiety will decrease. Be safe! Be well!
Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman is a retired registered nurse and case manager; CEO of Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate and author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor, and The Black Book of Important Information for Caregivers. Website: www.cynthiajhickman.com.