Healing Destination: Caregivers need to take care of themselves, too
After 34 years in health care and 24 years as a parent, compassion fatigue and burn-out are not strangers to me and neither is the mandate to keep on with what must be done.
Are you one of the many people in the role of caring for a loved one, be it an elderly parent, extended family member, young children or partner? Does the process leave you exhausted, burned out, or confused? There is help for you! Donna Guyot, a marriage family therapist and registered nurse practitioner of Tamarack Counseling and Consulting feels compelled to help Caregivers Take Care.
Donna, how has your background prepared you to assist caregivers?
As therapist, nurse, mother, wife and family member tending to the dying, I’ve had many opportunities to experience both the special, tender moments of caretaking, which includes parenting, as well as the painful, challenging moments.
After 34 years in health care and 24 years as a parent, compassion fatigue and burn-out are not strangers to me and neither is the mandate to keep on with what must be done. As therapist and nurse, I’ve had many opportunities to study this issue and see the results when caregivers receive the care that is needed.
My background in western medicine and psychotherapy and in complementary approaches to healing has helped me to understand, from a variety of perspectives, how those being cared for are affected by the caregiver.
My own children were the perfect teachers. When I was overly stressed, the results were quickly seen in my young daughters. Experience with limited time and resources during my most intense care-giving years and working with so many people in different circumstances has taught me what is practical and effective.
Do you see an increase in the needs of the caregiver?
A caregiver and the ones they are caring for are a system. Any time there is pressure on a system, the system will reflect that pressure. With uncertainty about jobs, cuts to human services, and dwindling resources for many individuals, caregivers may be overly stressed and believe they have to do without attending to their own needs.
In general, I think there is more pressure on many of us right now and I also believe this is a time we can learn to take better care of ourselves and of one another. That may be one positive message we can take from the current challenges. Let’s help each other.
How can caregivers start taking care of their own needs?
The first step is understanding that taking the time, energy and resources to attend to your own needs makes you a better caregiver with more energy to do the job that must be done.
There are lots of reasons it is difficult for some to believe that. Reaching out and asking for help and support is difficult for many people. Therapy helps by customizing the approach to meet the unique needs. Often the last thing a caregiver wants to hear is that they should add anything else to their schedule so I like to begin with simple, quick mind-body approaches to help the caregiver attend to their own needs, even while they are rendering care.
Donna can be reached at 530-265-4987 or at tamarackcounseling.com
Suzie Daggett, constantly curious about the mysteries of life, publishes the Insight Healthy Living Directory and produces the Insight Lecture Series. She can be reached by calling 530-265-9255 or visiting www.insightdirectory.com