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Caregiver Support

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Topic: Caregiver Support - Exploring resources within yourself and your community

February, 2012

Karyn Davies

Karyn Davies is Coordinator of the Caregiver Support Program at North Shore Community Resources, where she works with a small team of gifted and delightful colleagues. She is honoured to know the stories and experiences of caregivers, to encourage and support families and individuals, and to promote community awareness of caregiver issues.

Karyn is a Registered Social Worker, and has appreciated the richness of working in various healthcare settings; journeying with children, families, seniors and adults with disabilities. She is passionate about the role of the creative arts in shaping our life experiences, fostering the imagination, and in bringing a new level of awareness to life. 

Submit your question below or email it to info@brainstreams.ca

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Question:

Dear Karyn,
I am the survivor of a double aneurism and I have been seeing an occupational and physiotherapists since these events. My main concern is the stress my condition is putting on my wife and all the care she does in looking after me and my appointments I have to go to, constantly. She tells me it is no problem and that she would have it no other way, but I feel it is very difficult on her. She works full time and spends every moment away from work tending to me. I feel that this care she does for me is causing stress for her that I can't undo. All I want for her is peace and tranquility and looking after me can't be easy, although I truly appreciate every little thing she does and that she does it with a great smile on her face. I just don't want to add stress to her already stressful life. Is there anything you could suggest to me to help her out within my limitations physically..... Anything you could suggest will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you

Gary

  

Answer:

Hi Gary,

I appreciate your thoughtfulness and awareness of your wife’s well-being as she supports you on this journey.
It often becomes a relationship of mutual giving and receiving, in discovering the elements of care and attention that each person has to bring. It is common for couples to experience challenges and a process of learning to relate in different ways, as daily needs and routines change. Sometimes the physical care tasks feel stressful for caregivers, if they are managing many other details of running the house etc. Expressing love through looking after physical care needs can also bring about new discoveries for both people!

I encourage you to discuss which aspects of daily care feel difficult for your wife, or what tasks might she prefer not to do on a regular basis. Naming the challenges is okay! You might consider having a home support agency come to help with certain care needs, so that you and your wife can spend time together enjoying eachother’s company. The quality of one another’s presence may be a real gift.

Another thought is to encourage your wife to participate in a class or activity that she enjoys. Caregivers often say to me that doing one thing for themselves every week has given them nourishment! People have commented that they especially enjoy: Gentle hatha yoga, laughter yoga, Keep Well classes that focus on balance and strength, friends they walk with, a coffee date, or simply an hour or two with a good book in a cozy chair. One caregiver has now given herself permission to spend her respite time going somewhere cozy with a book.

As well, anything that helps us get in tune with our stress levels, and with our emotional limits is helpful. A trusted practitioner such as a massage therapist or counselor can encourage us with tools to cultivate self-awareness, to notice when we are feeling overwhelmed.

Wishing you well on your pathway.

Warmly,

Karyn Davies  

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