How to Stay Refreshed and Resilient as a Caregiver

By Brown, Denise M. | Work & Family Life, January 2003 | Go to article overview

How to Stay Refreshed and Resilient as a Caregiver


Brown, Denise M., Work & Family Life


How resilient are you as an elder caregiver? Here's a quick test that may help you find out.

Your sister-in-law pops in unannounced at the worst possible moment. Your husband looks awful and hasn't taken his shower yet. She yells out to you: "What have you done to him?"

You could: (1) Let her have it, venting the anger and frustration you've held in for years. (2) Take a deep breath and explain, "We're having a bad day. I'm glad you're here. I'd love your help. I'll run upstairs and take a quick shower while you visit with Frank. Or (3) Sit down on the couch and have a good cry.

Your mother calls you at work about little things 20-25 times a day. You're going to lose your job if this keeps up.

You could (1) Quit your job, though your income is important. (2) Call your local Area Agency on Aging, your church, or the local chapter of a support group. Be determined to find a solution to this. Or (3) Put your phone on "do not disturb."

Your home health aide is late again, even though you've spoken to her about the importance to you of her punctuality.

You could- (1) Tell the aide you've changed her start time to a half-hour earlier. That'll teach her. (2) Explain the situation to her supervisor and ask for suggestions to solve the problem. (3) Do nothing. It is hard to find good help.

If your scores were mostly 2's, you're in good shape. You're resilient. If your scores were mostly 3's, you have good intentions but give up too easily. Work on strengthening your emotional and physical well-being. If your scores were mostly 1's, you may be a walking time bomb. Try to be more patient, think of creative solutions and look at a situation from many sides.

Steps to staying refreshed

From time to time people need to step back and re-evaluate their role as caregivers. This helps bring perspective and also provides an opportunity to take inventory of your needs and your care recipient's. A healthy perspective will help you maintain your resilience. Here are some suggestions:

Welcome help. You may be the best caregiver in your family, but you are not the only one. Give specific, appropriate assignments to your spouse, your siblings, your adult children and/or your out-of-- town relatives. …

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