Many aspects of caregiving are full of joy and connection, but other interactions can be frustrating or overwhelming.
While it’s easy to feel discouraged and break down during these stressful times, understanding and implementing proven coping methods can lead to better outcomes for both you and your aging loved one.
Let’s count down three simple ways to restore balance to your life when patience is at a premium.
1. Remove Yourself From the Situation
This doesn’t necessarily mean physical removal, but instead using relaxation techniques which can help you refocus and recharge. Breathing exercises are particularly effective at settling nerves and quelling anxiety -- in fact, both Harvard Medical School and the American Institute of Stress recommend deep breathing as a beneficial stress management technique.
Just how effective is taking a deep breath? Doing so has been linked to decreases in blood pressure to muscle relaxation. Don’t have time for a 30-minute deep-belly breathing session? Try counting from 1 to 10 instead.
You and your aging loved one have shared a lifetime of memories and experiences. Think of a particularly special or meaningful time that you experienced together, and focusing on the positive can help you get through the difficult task at hand.
However, it's also important to have an outlet for negative emotions, so make sure you have a strong social network of friends and fellow family members with whom you can express your feelings and frustrations. Caregiver support groups also offer a valuable support network.
3. Accept What You Cannot Change
If you are dealing with an aging loved one with dementia, he/she may be unable to change frustrating behaviors. However, you can change your reactions. Would a change of subject or scenery help ease the situation?
What can you do to make your interactions better -- both for you and your aging loved ones? Sometimes, reversing negative behaviors can be as simple as a gentle pat on the back or a kind word.
At other times, your loved one’s frustrating behavior may be caused by a particular factor. Maybe he isn’t feeling well, or she’s upset about something outside her control? The more you can empathize with and really try to understand your aging loved one, the better equipped you’ll be to rise above the challenges of caregiving.
Above all else, remember the golden rule: no matter how difficult the situation may become, treat your aging loved one as they would like to be treated.
Implementing the right coping methods can help you rise above the stress and reconnect with your aging loved one.
Deep breathing and other relaxation techniques are proven stress reduction methods.
Focusing on the good aspects of your relationship can help you overcome negative emotions.
Accept that you may not be able to change your aging loved one, and instead focus on how to alter your own responses to promote peaceful, positive interaction.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.