Caring for the Caregiver by Stuart Hanzman, LCSW

490 Sun Valley Drive, Suite 205
Roswell, GA 30076
(770) 642-4236, ext. 41

A Caregiver is defined as any person who assists a disabled individual of any age:

  • Can be with simple tasks like cooking, shopping, transportation, housecleaning, bill paying, etc . . .
  • Can also include major tasks and responsibility, such as feeding, bathing, transferring, dressing, and providing 24-hour supervision
  • Can be a paid individual, family member or friend

A paid Caregiver is going to have less of an emotional attachment; this can be both an advantage and disadvantage.

  • More objective, less emotional, less stress, no prior relationship
  • Less dependable, expensive, hard to find, less committed

Family Caregivers: Parent, child, sibling, relative

Emotional involvement: Stress, time, money, memory of prior relationship, change in roles, inability to work, feelings about injury/illness, full-time commitment, heavy physical demands

REMEMBER: "If the Caregiver does not take care of him- or herself, there will be two sick people!"

From Take Your Oxygen First by Leeza Gibbons

Recognize the importance and value of good self-care:

  • Get out every day, good nutrition, exercise, counseling, spiritual support, support groups, good peer/family support system, sleep, allowing others to help, recognizing that you can't do it all
  • Accept imperfection: You cannot have perfect situation, cannot know everything about medical issues, cannot control person's mood or motivation level, cannot control course of illness
  • Maintain realistic expectations; accept your limitations
  • Maintain some normal home environment
  • Maintain relationships: Spouse, children, friends, family
  • Avoid isolation
  • Accept that you cannot control every facet of the person's life
  • Pay close attention to your own mood: Depression, anxiety, isolation, impatient, memory loss
  • The brain injury happened to the whole family: Everyone in the family system is affected
  • Take breaks: Days off, weekends away, family vacations, use paid caregivers if needed or respite care
  • Acknowledge your feelings: Resentment, frustration, overwhelmed, anger, stress
  • Know when to raise the flag. (I have to get help: personal or professional, medical intervention, paid help, family, etc . . .)
  • Appropriate use of medications: To control behavior, mood.
  • Acknowledge your own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Memories of the accident/illness; hospitalization; ICU; near-death experience; recovery periods.
  • PTSD Symptoms:
    • Anxiety
    • Poor sleep
    • Frequent nightmares
    • Difficulty knowing what is the present and what is a memory from the past
    • Reliving trauma
    • Depression, fears, frequent and unexplained changes in mood and behaviors

The greater the role of the Caregiver, the greater the impact on his or her own physical, emotional, and mental health.