Caregiver Wellness Tips Health and Well-being as a Caregiver

Are you a caregiver feeling overwhelmed by the demands of dementia care?

This episode provides valuable insights into maintaining your health and well-being while caring for a loved one with dementia.

0:02:07 Importance of Maintaining Health and Well-being as a Caregiver

0:04:02 Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First: Taking Care of Yourself

0:05:58 The Sacrifice of Family Caregivers

0:07:25 Importance of Spiritual Health for Caregivers

0:08:10 Leaving and cleaving: Establishing new households

0:10:09 Making decisions as a family caregiver and considering limitations

0:20:29 The Choice to Be a Caregiver or Not

0:22:22 The Decision to Help a Loved One in Need

0:22:53 Focusing on the Future in Relationships and Caregiving

0:24:14 Avoiding Toxic Facebook Groups for Dementia Caregivers

0:28:30 Three Ways to Maintain Health and Well-being as a Caregiver

0:32:46 Welcome to the Success Seeker Podcast!

Understanding the Caregiver's Role

The episode begins by emphasizing the importance of maintaining the caregiver's health and well-being. It acknowledges the challenges of caring for someone with dementia and stresses the necessity of self-care for caregivers. Lizette, an occupational therapist and caregiver, brings her professional and personal experiences to provide practical advice and emotional support.

Key Strategies for Caregivers

Several strategies are discussed to help caregivers manage their responsibilities effectively:

Prioritizing Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health:

The host emphasizes the importance of balancing physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of health. This holistic approach ensures caregivers do not neglect any part of their well-being.

Establishing Boundaries and Making Decisions:

The podcast underscores the significance of establishing boundaries and making informed decisions as a caregiver. It encourages caregivers to prioritize their health and relationships while providing care.

Changing Habits Gradually:

The host suggests changing habits one at a time, tying them to existing routines for better success. This approach helps in avoiding overwhelm and ensures sustainable changes in the caregiver's lifestyle.

Seeking Support and Community:

Joining supportive communities and seeking help from others in similar situations is highly recommended. The podcast host offers a program designed to assist caregivers in their journey.

Avoiding Negative Influences:

Caregivers are advised to steer clear of negative spaces, like toxic online groups, that can impact their mental health.

The episode concludes with an invitation to join the host’s community, providing resources and support for dementia caregivers. This opportunity is a way to transform the caregiving experience from being merely functional to exceptional, emphasizing the use of evidence-based practices to manage stress and promote well-being.

This episode is a valuable resource for any caregiver seeking practical advice and emotional support in their challenging yet rewarding journey.

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Transcript

Introducing a Stress-Less Dementia Caregiving Journey

[0:01] In today's episode of Dementia Caregiving for Families, I am going to invite you, if you are ready, to really have a stress-less, not stressless, but stress-less dementia caregiving journey, to join me as a founding member in a group membership program where we're going to be working on actually using science-backed strategies to track your stress levels over time so we can actually prove to ourselves where we need to change, what we need to do related to our dementia caregiving journey, because today's episode is how to maintain your health and well-being as a caregiver.

And so I'm super excited about this program. So stay tuned until the end, because if you are one of the 54 founding members, I have a tremendous, tremendous deal of a lifetime for you. you.

[1:11] Hey there, success seeker. Welcome to Dementia Caregiving for Families.

Do you feel overwhelmed with the daily struggle of dementia caregiving, looking for an easier path?

You're in the right place. On this podcast, we teach you the skills to simplify caregiving.

We unravel the mystery of dementia and guide you through the often difficult behaviors.

I'm Lizette, your host and fellow family caregiver.

As an occupational therapist, I bring my professional and personal experience to this community.

Here we speak the truth, but without the verbal vomit.

I know you you will find value in today's program.

So buckle up while this flight takes off.

Importance of Maintaining Health and Well-being as a Caregiver

[2:07] Welcome back to Dementia Caregiving for Families. At the beginning of this new year, I thought it would be a fun thing to consider how to maintain the health and well-being for yourself as a family caregiver.

You know, the beginning of every year, people make New Year's resolutions.

I stopped doing that many years ago because I noticed that it would just mean that I would get going for a couple of weeks and then life would go back to normal and it never affected a real change in my life.

So as this new year starts off, I have a couple of questions for you.

What does it even and mean as a family caregiver to maintain your health and your well-being?

What does it mean? What does it mean to you? What does it mean to me?

I know what I want for health and well-being, but what do you want for health and well-being?

Do you even know what that looks like? Do you even know what to consider for your own future when you are finished with your caregiving journey?

[3:25] A couple of thoughts that came up as I was looking at health was related to the three fears in our health and well-being that we need to consider.

The physical, the mental, and the spiritual.

[3:48] What do we do? How do we do this? Have you guys thought about that before?

Have you considered what you need to do in order to maintain your own health and well-being during your dementia caregiving journey?

Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First: Taking Care of Yourself

[4:02] And why? Why is it important?

Most of us have flown, and I know I'm not the first person who has used this analogy, but it is a suitable analogy when you think about just caregiving in general.

But when you were on a plane and the.

[4:23] Flight attendants, when I grew up, they were called air hostesses, right?

But the flight attendants, when they do the safety check at the beginning of a flight, they always, always tell you, if you are flying with somebody who needs help, you need to put the oxygen mask on yourself self first and not on the child or the person who is requiring the assistance.

[4:52] Because if something happens to you, if something happens to them, they can't help you.

But you can help them if you've taken care of yourself, right?

So we always, always have to take care of ourselves first.

Now, Now, I know what you were thinking in your head because I said the same thing to myself, especially when I tumbled into a 24-hour family caregiver experience, which put me on the path that I'm on today.

I know it's very easy to put the needs of the person that you're helping being ahead of yourself for so many reasons, right? We're family caregivers.

What does that imply? It implies it's a parent. It implies it could be a child.

Children do get dementia.

It implies it is a spouse.
The Sacrifice of Family Caregivers

[5:58] Have to consider that because we are in those roles of family caregivers, we're not talking about professional caregivers here, but when we're in the role of a family caregiver, it is extremely easy to put the needs of the person that you're helping ahead of your own for so many different reasons.

Number one, you know, if it's your parent, like it's mine, There's a sense of honoring your parent and wanting to help them.

If it's your spouse, you obviously love and care for your spouse or else you wouldn't be spouses.

You got married 50 years ago and you love one another dearly.

And you assume the role of a caregiver because of your previous relationship and the love that you have for one another. other.

But that doesn't mean that you put your own health and well-being in jeopardy, right?

[6:58] Especially your, and I'll be very honest, you know, physical health is important for sure.

Your stress levels and your mental health, your resilience is very important, but your spiritual Spiritual health is the most important part to maintain because without that, you in essence rob yourself of your future.

Importance of Spiritual Health for Caregivers

[7:26] And I want to talk about this a little bit further today.

I want to talk about it in three different ways, three different, very different ways ways to think about maintaining your health and well-being as a family caregiver.

[7:45] What's the first point I want to bring up? The first point I want to bring up is that if you are married and you have established a new household, you left.

You leave and cleave. You left your family unit that you were born into and you started a new family unit, right?

Leaving and cleaving: Establishing new households

[8:10] Most people are married. Not everybody is married.

I get that. Don't get upset if you're unmarried and I have stepped on your toes.

But in essence I really haven't stepped on your toes because leaving and cleaving means you leave the house that you are born into and you establish a new household, right?

Most of the time when we think of the words leave and cleave we think of a married couple.

I have a married daughter and I have a unmarried daughter.

Well my unmarried daughter has left and cleft. She's established established her own household.

She is not a part of my household anymore, which means she is her own family unit. My married daughter, the same thing.

She and her husband are now the primary family unit in their household.

And what that means is it has implications.

[9:07] It has implications for us when we are the daughters taking care of parents.

Because very often I have run into this particular situation where a daughter, rightfully so, wants to honor her parents.

And it's a good It's a good and right thing to want to do, but you cannot do it over the primary relationship and the primary responsibility you have, which is to you and your husband.

[9:43] So when my husband and I started down this particular journey with my mom and dad, we We actually first were thrown into the crisis, which was no fun, I will admit, and actually caused me to start a lot of what I have grown into and believe related to your own well-being and health as a family caregiver.

Making decisions as a family caregiver and considering limitations

[10:09] Because immediately when you're in the crisis, you take care of the situation.

But now we had a longer-term problem, right? We had the immediate problem. We took care of that.

But now we had a longer-term problem because we both recognized, my husband and I both recognized that my parents are going to need assistance moving on, whether it be intermittent help, whether it be longer-term help.

We weren't quite sure at that time. And so we had a lot of options that we had to weigh.

Everybody does, right? Everybody has financial limitations, time limitations, strength limitations, physical limitations.

Limitations and sometimes even bad stuff, bad juju that happened in the past, like abandonment or abuse or things like that, right?

So we have these things that we have to consider when we are making the decision to assume a family caregiving role.

And I do say it is your decision. It is our decision to actually become a family caregiver.

[11:14] And that's a whole other conversation. conversation but one of the biggest things that my husband and I had to decide was, in our particular situation what does that help look like and we quickly realized that we are willing to help my mom and dad it's not a unwillingness but we are not actually going to be able to have them live with us there's a lot of family dynamics like everybody's high everybody has family dynamics. I get that, right?

But family dynamics can color how you actually make some of your decisions and quite rightfully so. So my husband and I.

[11:53] Decided together that we are willing to help my parents.

But what that looks like for us is that we have come to recognize that we cannot live physically under the same roof in the same household as my parents for a variety of different reasons.

And what that has done, though, is that it has precipitated our making certain decisions from that because my primary responsibility responsibility is not my mom and dad.

My primary responsibility is my husband and I and the nuclear family that we have established.

Our children are grown and flown, so they are a part of our life, but they have established their own households.

[12:37] And that's the first thing that I want to bring out to you.

When you think about your own health and well-being as a family caregiver, giver, you have to start with that primary role and responsibility.

So if you're a daughter and you've left and you got married and you have established a new household, that means you have to have your husband on board.

You have to consider his needs, wants, and desires.

That doesn't mean that you do not honor your parents and help your parents.

It just means that within within the new nuclear family that you have, you have to make the decisions differently.

And that can be very difficult to navigate.

And I understand that. Life is a series of difficult decisions that everybody has to make, right?

And I know that for me, it was a big realization to be able to actually say, my marriage, my relationship with my husband is more important than my relationship with my parents.

I'm helping them. I will continue to help them, but I always am going to be doing it from the lens of a married daughter and what that means.

[13:57] So leaving and cleaving and you have to start your own health and well-being journey with that relationship in mind.

Did you know that caring for a person with dementia doesn't have to be this hard?

If you are struggling and you would like to join our next free workshop, it is this coming Saturday.

[14:26] The topic of the workshop is Three Tips How to Avoid Challenging Dementia Behaviors Without Stress, Anxiety, or Burnout.

I invite you to walk away with science-backed dementia caregiving skills that many professionals don't even know after attending this free workshop on Saturday. day.

If you'd like to register, message me the word workshop on Instagram or check out the link in the show notes below.

[15:08] And then the second point I wanted to bring out today is I know that changing habits, you know, we're at the beginning of the year.

We're talking about New Year earlier, right?

Changing habits can feel very hard, but it doesn't have to be that hard. It can be easy, right?

So how do you change your habits?

I'm going to use this old joke that goes along the line, and I'm terrible at telling jokes, but how do you eat an elephant? You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

So changing habits is the same thing.

You cannot change all your habits at the same time because you will get overwhelmed.

You will feel unsuccessful.

[15:59] You will realize that you're throwing, you're trying to juggle too many balls in the air and nothing will actually get done.

So you change habits one at a time and you if you've read the book i forgot the name of the title of the book but i'll put it in the i'll put it in the show notes but there's a there's a great book uh written by james clear on how to change your habits how to actually change your habits and how you change a habit is actually very simple you change one habit at a time and you You anchor it to another existing habit. We have habits.

Habits and routine is our friend. And I talk about that a lot when I talk about helping somebody living with dementia maintain their best level of ability.

We use their habits. We use their routines and habits in order to do that.

So we can do the same thing.

One of the ways I've changed a habit recently is I never used to journal.

[17:03] I wasn't a journaler. My sister recommended that I start to journal, and it was the best thing that I started to do, and it's really helped my own mindset, my own mental wellness and resiliency in being able to journal.

But I have a normal morning routine. You know, you get up, you go to the restroom, you do your thing, right?

And my morning routine involves immediately in the morning going and sitting and doing my morning devotions.

So the way I started to journal was I attached the new habit of wanting to journal for my well-being, for my health and well-being, to my morning devotion of reading the Bible.

And it just flowed out of that and became a normal routine and a habit, and now I I don't even think about it.

[17:58] So when we're considering working on our own health and well-being, say you want to do your physical health and you know that you need to exercise in order to have the resilience to do this marathon as a family caregiver, you have to create the space for that.

You have to, if it's your spouse, then you have to figure out a way to either get somebody to come stay with him or her so that you can go exercise or you need to go walk together or whatever.

The particular details is going to be too vast for me to address in this podcast, but you find a habit that you do routinely.

So if you eat lunch and you want to go to the gym, you eat your lunch and you go to the gym or you attach it to right before that. Our morning routine when I stopped working full-time.

[18:54] We created a new morning routine after our morning devotions and all of that stuff. We open up the chickens.

I put on my gym clothes and we get in the car and we go to the gym every morning.

We don't even think about it anymore, most mornings.

But we had to change the habit. We had to attach it to something that we could do consistently over time every single day.

And so that is how you take a baby step. You do the first thing and you attach it to something else that you are doing in order for you to change a habit.

Don't try to change all your habits at once. That'll just overwhelm you.

But choose one thing, whether it be the physical, the mental, or the spiritual well-being for you as a family caregiver.

[19:45] Pick one thing that you know is really needing to be addressed and then you start there.

And so that was the second point. The third way I want you to maintain your health and well-being as a family caregiver is, and this is going to be a challenge, and I understand, and I'm sorry that I challenge people sometimes, but caregiving is an active decision.

A lot of people say, I have no choice in being a caregiver.

Yeah, we do. Our choices may be limited. If you, and I've said this to people before, if you were abused by a parent, like a physical abuse or a terrible situation.

The Choice to Be a Caregiver or Not

[20:29] You do have the right to say you are not going to be their primary caregiver.

You can choose that. What that means is that the decisions that you, I'm not suggesting that you abandon your parent, but I am suggesting that you make the decisions that you make related to your caregiving journey from a position of strength and say, I cannot be their physical primary caregiver.

I cannot be their emotional primary caregiver, and that you work on setting up strategies and systems so that you are not that person, whatever that looks like.

Whether that be, I don't know, talking to a social worker, if your parent is far enough along that they really do need a guardian or whatever, having a guardian ad litem set up, whatever it looks like.

But you can make decisions.

They may be hard decisions, but you can make a decision to be a caregiver and you can make a decision to not be a caregiver.

And that is okay. I'm not saying abandon the person, but I'm just saying that a lot of people will tell me, but I don't have a choice.

[21:44] Yes, you do. You do have a choice. Your choices may not necessarily be unlimited, but you do have a choice.

And so the first thing that really helps your own mindset related to caregiving, which is what we're talking about, how to maintain your own health and well-being, is by saying, I am a caregiver or I am not a caregiver.

And if you are not the caregiver, setting structures and doing things to take care of that person, but having somebody else be that caregiver, that care partner.

The Decision to Help a Loved One in Need

[22:22] But the other part I wanted to bring up with is if you have chosen, if you have actively now decided that you are going to help this person who needs help because you love them and you have looked at the entire journey and kind of looked at the outcome in the future, realizing and understanding that, yes, you love your parent, yes, you love your spouse, but if you outlive them, then you have your own health and wellness and.

Focusing on the Future in Relationships and Caregiving

[22:53] Relationships that you need to have sustained and have maintained over time in order for you to have a future.

And it's not wrong to look to your future. I remember when my husband was in in seminary, we had a very single-minded focus, and that was getting through seminary.

We crammed three years into four, but, you know, we had young children, 10, 12, 14 years old, you know, during that age range.

So we made the decision. We knew our single focus was getting him through school and through seminary, but that did mean that we did things differently while we were in that journey.

And you too, as a family caregiver.

[23:34] When you start with the end in mind, when you start with where you're going to be in the future when this journey is done, and then you backtrack it from there, it is easier for you to be able to look to your own health and wellness as a part of this marathon because it's a marathon.

It is not a sprint, right?

And it allows you to build in the opportunities for you to find contentment in your journey, to work on your own frame of mind in how you look at everything that you are going through.

Avoiding Toxic Facebook Groups for Dementia Caregivers

[24:14] Yes, I get there are going to be days that are harder. I understand that.

And that's okay. I'm not talking about a blip on the radar.

I'm talking about a pattern of thinking.

[24:25] Did you know that caring for a person with dementia doesn't have to be this hard?

If you are struggling and you would like to join our next free workshop, it is this coming Saturday.

[24:43] The topic of the workshop is Three Tips How to Avoid Challenging Dementia Behaviors Without Stress, Anxiety, or Burnout.

I invite you to walk away with science-backed dementia caregiving skills that many professionals don't even know after attending this free workshop on Saturday. day.

If you'd like to register, message me the word workshop on Instagram or check out the link in the show notes below.

If you are constantly in huge big Facebook groups where all you hear related to dementia and dementia caregiving is the woe is me, doom and gloom, the sky's falling, falling chicken little, then all you are going to get from your dementia caregiving journey is doom and gloom, woe is me, the sky is falling chicken little.

I beg you not to stay in a Facebook group that is toxic.

If it is truly a beneficial curated Facebook group, there are some of them out there.

I invite you to join mine as well.

[26:06] But if you are in one of these huge Facebook groups where everybody feels safe and anonymous to just spew the hard stuff, then your dementia caregiving journey will be difficult.

[26:22] I will never forget, I had a student many years ago, and we were in the car one day driving, and I got out of bed on the wrong side of bed.

I own it. I woke up with a bad attitude.

[26:38] It was a student that was struggling and we were really having to work through a lot of issues.

And I worked in home health, which meant we spent eight hours a day in the car together.

And my emotional resilience at that time was in the toilet.

And I'll never forget, I woke up with a terrible attitude and we went and the first patient I saw that day. It was an awful, awful session.

It was an awful experience, probably for the patient.

It certainly was for me. I'm very sure the student felt it.

And on the way walking back to the car, I said to myself, I'm like, Lizette, if you stay here today in this mind space, in this frame that you created, came into the day with, then this entire day is going to be in the toilet.

I'm like, suck it up, buttercup.

Get over yourself. It's not that bad.

Fake it till you feel it and let's go. And I said all of that to myself in my mind.

And I got in the car. We drove to the next patient. I still didn't feel like it.

I certainly didn't feel like it. But you know what?

I got out of of the car and I faked it till I felt it. I walked into that person's house and I rah-rahed through the session.

And you know what? When I walked out of the house that day, I actually felt better.

[28:01] And so I share this story with you to tell you that yes, your mindset relating to your caregiving journey is going to determine the outcome of your caregiving journey.

I'm not saying you can't have have a bad day. I'm just saying you can't have a bad week, month, year, season, because we can find joy and contentment in our dementia caregiving journey.

Three Ways to Maintain Health and Well-being as a Caregiver

[28:30] So three ways.

[28:34] For you to maintain your own health and well-being as a family caregiver, three simple ways.

And what I'd love to do today is invite you, if anything or everything that I've been saying really resonates with you, I want to invite you to really connect with me.

I want you to join me in a community that I am starting and growing.

I have a new program that is just getting ready to launch.

It is going to be phenomenal because I want you as a family caregiver who is navigating.

[29:17] Dementia care, I want you to go from being an ordinary family caregiver to an extraordinary ordinary family caregiver.

But I can't just say that, right? How do I prove to you that we can do this?

Well, I have found and I have developed a way that we can actually use evidence-based practices, science-based strategies, data-driven stuff to be able to show you over time that you you can be less stressed or where your stress levels are.

And then we can work through that by actually preventing your burnout so that you can love your family well, right? Because that's what this is about.

We want to love our family well. We want to love our husbands.

We want to love our parents. We want to love our children.

We want to maintain our relationships, our health. So I'm inviting you today, if I resonated with you, to join this community for the first 54 families.

[30:22] 54 families, I'm inviting you to join.

And if you join now, because this is going to be the founding members, the 54 families are going to be the founding members of this community, then you will actually have lifetime access to the coaching component and the community.

Obviously, the education is always going to be there.

But the coaching, the group coaching, I'm calling this a low cost group program.

It is not a membership.

A membership implies that you can come and go.

[31:00] It is not a membership. It is actually a group coaching program with me and other coaches where you, if you join now as the first 54 founding members of this community, and I will allow you to put your whole entire family circle in there, and I will give you lifetime access for the person that you are helping.

So if mom lives 10 more years, you'll have access to this for 10 years.

I can't think of a better way to do this.

The reason I decided to go with this is because I know from research as an occupational therapist that longitudinal or help over an extended period of time is what helps family caregivers.

[31:48] And I don't want to just do surface level work with people.

I want to really go in depth with people. When you speak to the people in my group community already, the single thing that they say the most to me is that it has single-handedly changed their view and their outcome of their own dementia caregiving journey. journey.

So if you're ready, I want you to message me on Instagram and you can start down this journey with me.

The actual group will start in February, towards the middle of February.

But if you are a founding member, you will have lifetime access.

So guys, this is a great deal. Whole families, we're going to revolutionize the world.

Family caregivers do not need to continue to struggle. So I will see you in the next episode

Subscribe To Dementia Caregiving For Families Podcast

If you would like more information on how to help a parent living with dementia. Join Our Next FREE Workshop. https://www.dementiacaregivingmadeeasy.com/wsl

Become a Founding Member of Our Exclusive Academy! Only 54 Founding Family Slots Available for Extraordinary Caregivers. https://www.dementiacaregivingmadeeasy.com/start

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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