Friday, April 25, 2014

Apply the Oxygen Mask and Seek Support

Today my guest Michael Bloom, author of the book “The Accidental Caregiver’s Survival Guide: Your Roadmap to Caregiving Without Regret.” talks about creativity as a life saver.

"There are many different types of family caregivers: people caring forspouses who become ill or disabled, parents caring for children with disabilities, adult children caring for aging parents, family members caring for an injured veteran who returns from war, or to a loved one who suffers a traumatic brain injury after a car accident. Many caregivers, especially moms, perform more than one caregiving role such as providing care to an elderly parent with dementia and to a child with a disability – also referred to as a sandwich generation caregiver. Due to their dedication, many caregivers are at great risk for burnout and a personal health decline that puts their loved ones at risk.

Almost every family caregiver throughout the world assumes her/his role without pre-planning. The role emerges as a result of an unexpected family member health crisis that results in illness, injury, or disability. When duty calls, the caregiver jumps in to support the loved one in need without hesitation and puts other parts of their life on hold or on the back burner.

Most caregivers try do it all on their own as they do not want to burden others with the many responsibilities associated with care.  As a result, they pass on job opportunities, decrease work hours, or even leave jobs, which can diminish their own financial security. They may stop focusing on personal health which increases their own risk for serious illness or disease.  

Although most caregivers perform heroically and show a positive face to support their loved ones, they can break down physically and emotionally.  This low energy can even carry over to ignoring or delaying the implementation of what they can control – such as coordinating appointments or activities that are personally beneficial.

Unfortunately, caregivers usually devote little or no time to having fun with friends or intimate partners. They may give up personal hobbies and recreational activities that previously provided great fulfillment and joy. Basically, the life of a caregiver can sadly transform to one of all work, no play, and no joy. It does not need to be this way.  

The good news is that with a renewed commitment to self it is possible to recharge your caregiving energy now and save your own life in the process. Think about it this way. Before an airplane takes off, the flight attendant shares emergency instructions. One of the primary directions is that when the oxygen masks drop overhead, it is vital for parents to place them on themselves before applying to the children. Otherwise, they run the risk of passing out which could lead to death for both the parent and child. The same principle applies to effective caregiving. Apply the oxygen mask first to yourself and then apply it to your loved one so both of you can survive to see another day. 

crafty Saturday afternoon at home

Once you commit to taking care of yourself and willingly seek support from others, you and your loved one can actually thrive during the caregiving journey.  Start by making a list of all of the tasks you do to manage your household and take care of your loved one.  When other family members or friends ask how they can be of support, you will have a menu of items for them to choose from.  People respond and perform best when they are given a choice to contribute based upon their individual abilities, preferences, and talents.

When seeking support from others, do not forget the younger generation.  Children and teens enjoy feeling valued and can play an important role in helping to care for loved ones, especially grandparents and siblings with special needs.  Young people who get involved with caregiving responsibilities will learn important life skills and can bring joy to the situation. This can allow you to take a little time for yourself.  You might go out for a walk, read a book, take a relaxing bath, listen to music, get together with a friend, or participate in a favorite hobby.

After you complete your personal respite activity, make sure to share lots of appreciation with the young family member who provided the support.  An expression of deep gratitude will keep them motivated to do more in the future.  Do not overuse one child/teen and make sure they have opportunities to get breaks from the stresses of family caregiving as well.  Check in and have in-depth conversations with your child to answer any questions or address any concerns.  This will leave the young person feeling like a valued and contributing family member.  Best of all, it will enhance harmony and satisfaction in the home, which will be great for all involved. 

Go forward with love and support, fellow caregiver!


Guest Author Bio:

Michael is a Certified Professional Coach and Caregiving Without Regret™ Expert A. Michael Bloom, MA, MS, CPC, has energized hundreds of caregivers with soul-saving coping strategies that support them in saving lives, including their own. With a wealth of practical expertise as both a family and professional caregiver, Michael serves as a welcome and sought-after catalyst to guide caregivers to stay energized and committed to work that has never been more important than it is today.

You can learn more about the book at http://www.theaccidentalcaregiverssurvivalguide.com

and Michael’s coaching and speaking services at  http://www.bloomforcoach.com.


Whether you are a caregiver or not, what will you do FOR YOURSELF this weekend?

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33 comments:

misteejay said...

Very interesting post Paula.

As a caregiver and the manager of several staff with care responsibilities I know it can be difficult to make/find time for oneself. I try to take myself away from the care environment for at least a couple of hours each week just to 'recharge' my own batteries.

This Saturday I will be meeting up with friends to spend a few hours watching crafting techniques at the craft village. I think coffee and a spot of lunch will also make up part of the day.

Have a great weekend Paula.

Toni xx

bloomforcoach said...

Toni,

Thanks for sharing your comments about the post. So glad that you recognize the importance of taking time to "recharge" your batteries each week. Keep up the great work!

-Michael

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

You always find the coolest classes and demos to go to Toni. I enjoy those vicariously through you. :D It is awesome that you can keep that time to yourself.

Thanks for connecting with my readers too Micheal. :)

Rochkirstin Santos said...

Caregivers are indeed life savers. Because of them, the elderly and people who need more attention are properly cared for. They should be most patient. It's a good relation to the oxygen mask.

Kung Phoo said...

I have always wanted to give blood, and i finally did last year. I am not necessarily a care giver, but if there is someone in need, i can be counted on if i can help.

bxcrochet said...

My mom works full time and is the caregiver to my grandma. I always make sure she has some time to herself by helping out whenever I can.

Michelle F.

Triplezmom said...

Thanks for the great insights. That is really helpful info!

Patranila Jefferson said...

Caring for yourself while providing care for someone else is so important!

Russ R. said...


I kind of get this thought that when one says caregiving, it's a one-way thing. It kind of sounds like a job wherein the effort is not appreciated on most times. I'm not just referring to the profession but to your example as well that moms perform more than one caregiving role.

As noble as caregiving might be, I think that not everyone has the gift, but all of us can certainly work on it if we try.

Joanna Sormunen said...

I think we can truly find happiness in our lives when we give it to someone else. If we only worry about our own happiness, we'll loose it.

Amanda T said...

I find great respect in caregivers. I had to help care for my grandpa when he was dying of terminal cancer.. It's not easy to watch. I wish I could have done crafts with him, but he was just too sick..

Cheap Is The *New* Classy said...

It takes a really special person to be a caregiver. I hope that I am patient and loving enough when the time comes that I need to be one.

Payal Bansal said...

moms are the best caregivers god has gifted us... and when she gets ill, I love to care for her :)

Alyssa Collazo said...

Thank you for posting this!!!

LLoyd FErnandEz said...

personal health is very essential we must protect or give importance to it

Franc Ramon said...

While caregivers focus more of the attention to others they should also give time for their own development.

Aisha Kristine Chong said...

I do believe its always important to know when you should take a time off - recharging ourselves is always important in many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Wendy said...

I find that I need a LOT of emotional support and I'm only caring for children, no parents or adults. I have such respect for those who care for others every day. It's such a selfless way to be.

Nadia Venus said...

Definitely. We all need to recharge batteries from time to time, but there are other physical, mental or emotional jobs that might need to do this more often than others.

bloomforcoach said...

Rochkirstin Santos, thanks for your comment about caregivers being lifesavers. I believe that our caregivers are the greatest and most positive force for humanity.

bloomforcoach said...

Kung Phoo, Giving blood is so very important. I am sure you will make an excellent caregiver if the need arises.

bloomforcoach said...

Michelle F. Good for you! I am sure your mom is so grateful. Blessings to your family.

bloomforcoach said...

Triplezmom, thank you for your kind comment!

bloomforcoach said...

Patranila Jefferson, absolutely! We need to do that to sustain our energy.

bloomforcoach said...

Russ R, I agree that not everyone has the gift to serve as a primary caregiver. Even those that do not or choose not to directly perform caregiving tasks can still be of support to the caregiver. One can bring a nice meal, express appreciation, or just be an ear or shoulder to lean on at times. Showing support of any type can mean a lot to a family going through a health crisis.

bloomforcoach said...

Joanna Sormunen, I agree. Service and support to others does bring fulfillment and purpose to life.

bloomforcoach said...

Cheap Is The *New* Classy, I am certain you will. Stating that intention is a wonderful way to begin.

bloomforcoach said...

Payal Bansal, good for you! After my Dad passed away, I took care of my Mom for 3 years as her primary live in caregiver so she could remain at home instead of going to a nursing home. I would make the same choice again. She gave me everything and deserved every minute of my support. My Mom passed away on Mother;s Day 2012 and I miss her and my Dad every day.

bloomforcoach said...

Aisha Kristine Chong, absolutely!

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

Thanks Michael for connecting with all the commenters. Wise and caring perspectives were shared.

Michelle Knopp said...

This hit home for me. I have a 12 year old son who was born with a congenital disorder. Although his brain and mind are intact, he needs extra help physically because he has limited use of his arms and legs. I have also spent a lot of time over the years taking care of my grandmother until my mom moved back a year ago. While she still lives alone she is very dependent on others to get around and make sure she is taking her medications and eating right. It's easy to forget about ourselves in the process of taking care of others. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Cococute Manaloto said...

This is my first time to visit your blog and I found your page very interesting and refreshing because others always do reviews and GA's and it is so nice to sometimes have a good read while having some tea on the side.

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

Michelle, I was talking about this with my mom this morning. I feel almost uncomfortable with others taking care of me instead of the other way round. Something to think about.

Thanks Cococute Manaloto. I share the work of the people that I find interesting around the web. :)

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