Episode 93: Your Caregiving Year in Review Guide

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It’s time to look back at how caregiving has been working and not working for you. 

I don’t care what time of the year you decide to do it, taking account of the state of your caregiving and the health of your loved one is important for you to do.

There’s a reason why businesses review their year… they want to see what worked and what didn’t so appropriate changes and decisions can be made for their future.

Why not do it for you and the person you care for?

Let’s talk about your caregiving year in review

There are five questions you need to ask yourself. If you do decide to seriously take this task on you need to answer the questions truthfully. If something hurts, if you explain away an answer before writing it down or if it makes you emotional you need to note that. Those are the things that could be really affecting your life in a positive or negative way and really need to be highlighted so you know what to do moving forward.

What are you doing that you don’t have to?

One of the main complaints caregivers have is they don’t have enough help. People say they will help them but don’t or people tell them “let us know how we can help” but they never really know what they could ask to have help with. 

Asking for and receiving help is an issue for us for many reasons. We don’t want to give up control of things because we just can’t give up the control. We are so overwhelmed we can’t even see the things we can delegate to other people or we don’t want to ask someone to help because you worry they won’t show up and you’ll still have to do it on your own but this time with being let down added into the mix.

So if one or all of those are an issue with you asking for help or delegating task to other people know that you’re not alone. 

You really shouldn’t set out to caregiver on your own with no support. You will always be the caregiver but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a support team for yourself just like the person you care for has. 

Start out with thinking of the easy things to delegate. The things you hate to do the most. Or even the things that are seasonal that you have no energy to do. That could be snow removal or yard work. See if a neighbor would help when they go out to take care of their yards, maybe there’s a teenager in the neighborhood you could hire or a family member that could pitch in. Or you could ask friends and family to donate money towards or pool money together and hire a landscape company to do it. That goes for any chore you might have on this easier list of things. Think housecleaning, cooking and meal prep, transportation to doctor’s appointments or sitting at home so you can run out to take care of some things or take a nap without having to worry.

Maybe you’d really like for someone else to sit with your loved one during chemo treatments or get them out of the house so you can have some alone time. 

What can you delegate? Maybe it’s easier to put together a wish list of things you’d love to not have to do and send it to people close to you and ask them to make one of your dreams come true. 

You don’t need to spend time doing everything when there are people out there that can help. You should aim to do less going forward so you can spend more time doing things that really matter.

That leads into the second question.

What worked last year?  

Think of what doctor’s really showed up and did an exceptional job, what hospitals gave you great customer service. What treatments really worked and help your loved one’s health and what surgeries were really beneficial. What blood work and diagnostics were really important for you to understand the state of their health? What meals really helped them feel good. Why nutrition protocols seemed to help? 

What people or companies were really successful at doing the job or task you hired or asked them to do? 

What worked for you personally? Did you start to add some time into the day for you to take a brief break? Did you ask a friend to sit at home so you could run out and take care of some errands. Or did you get a chance to go out to meet someone for coffee or dinner or even a walk that really made you feel good? 

What was fun and allowed you to really connect with the person you care for?

You can make it as broad or as in depth as you’d like for it to be. 

Remember looking back at things isn’t meant to be an activity for you to judge and feel bad about yourself. Taking the time to understand what worked is a great way for you to understand what didn’t which is the next question. 

What didn’t work 

Go back now and do the same thing you did for the last question and think about the things that didn’t work.

Is there a new doctor that just didn’t feel right or you feel uncomfortable going back to? Is there a hospital that has really bad customer service and professional that really don’t make you feel like they care. 

Are there treatments that didn’t really work and need to be really questioned before attempting to do them again?

Are there parts of your own personal life that aren’t really feeling good and need to change? 

Did you find that for some reason certain foods aren’t tolerated well by the person you care for. Are there things that hurt your relationship or made time with them difficult for a while?

Find the things that didn’t work. Try to be impartial even though it’s hard to do. 

How is your health and their health compared to 6 and 12 months ago?

This is an important question to answer and it could be one of the more difficult ones to address.

How is your loved one’s health compared to how it was six and 12 months ago? Was their disease that was able to be removed and now there is less or very little to no cancer in their body? Has there been any improvement in their health? Other than what they are being treated for how is their health because sometimes we use how their disease or disability is progressing but loose sight of the other markers of health we should be watching because they could be affected by medications and lifestyle. For example, have they had a routine physical? If so did their blood work catch anything that should be of concern? IS there anything that has been explained away as being a product of a certain medication or simply because of the disease they live with. For example, is their cholesterol high but the doctor isn’t concerned because they have cancer? You don’t want to let things that are not directly connected to their disease or disability to become another big health problem for them.

How about you? Have you had your physical, mammogram, prostrate exam, and eyes checked? Is there something you know you need to address but just haven’t because there just isn’t time for your doctor’s appointments after all the ones you have to take your loved one to? Don’t have the energy to make the appointments after making all of theirs. Or maybe you want to ignore your health because you know there are some pressing matters that need to be address and you just don’t want to. 

Your health is just as important as theirs and you really need to take an account of how things have changed for the better or worse for both of you and make good decisions based on that.

What needs to change and how?

 Lastly look back at all you’ve written out and see if there are a couple of things that really stick out. Maybe there’s something you answered two separate questions with. Or possibly there is something you wrote down that you noticed really made you emotional. 

Write down the changes that should be made in order for their to be progress over the next 6 and 12 months. Progress is what you say it is. Maybe it’s simply remembering to take your cholesterol pills or possibly it’s finally deciding to get a second opinion at a different hospital with a different doctor because you don’t think where you’re at is a good fit anymore.

Make a list of the things that need to change and then pick one to work on first. You can slowly move down the list as you go forward or simply use the list as a way to check on how you need to make different decisions. 

However you use it you’ll at least set out knowing the things that are really working for the two of you and the things that need a little work or are really broken.

Stopping and taking an account of how things are going in life isn’t something most of us do but it’s a great way to see where there’s potential to making your life a little more enjoyable in the future.


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