Caregiver Survival Tips from Circle of Care

Elaine Sanchez speaks about caregiver survival at the Alzheimer’s Association 2012 Circle of Care conference

Sometimes caregivers feel like they are barely hanging in there! Author and caregiving guru Elaine Sanchez presented a few real world caregiver survival tips at our annual Circle of Care conference.

First, she advised adopting what she calls creative indifference, which is of not allowing yourself to become emotionally ravaged by the progression of the disease or events.

There are three basic steps to developing an attitude of creative indifference:

1.)    Become AWARE of the specific issues that cause you the greatest amount of emotional stress – write it down;

2.)    ACCEPT you are human and you are coping with situations that are complicated and extremely difficult to manage;

3.)    ACT and take charge of the things you can change. Release things over which you have no power, influence or control.

“Make two choices: is there anything I can do to fix change or control this? If the answer is no, release it; if it’s yes, make a plan,” she said.

She also talks about what she calls the Four Horsemen of Caregiving: Anger, Guilt, Depression and Grief.

“Everybody gets angry! Anger is a normal and predictable response to circumstances we cannot control,” she said. “But – we all have huge hearts, couldn’t do this work if we didn’t care.”

She reminded us that it’s the disease that is in control of our loved ones – it’s the disease that is acting out. To manage your anger:

  • Stay calm when they are not
  • Create a safety net of family and friends
  • Participate in art, music, dance
  • Use adult day care
  • Exercise
  • Hit something!
  • Seek counseling, talk to a therapist, clergy etc.

“Be present in the moment and release your attachment to who they used to be,” she said. “No matter what abilities they’ve lost they’re still capable of being loved.”

For more from Elaine about Anger, guilt, depression and grief and other caregiver survival tips, visit www.EKSanchez.com where you can access tip sheets, read her blog and more. And be sure to stay tuned for future Alzheimer’s Association conferences at our web site: www.alz.org/norcal.