Who is caring for Mom and Dad?

Article provided by Julie Bolinger, PharmD, RPh, BC-ADM, Certified Health Coach and Clinical Pharmacist, at Fort Wayne Custom Rx

At my diabetes center in Southern Indiana, I would see several patients a day to help them learn how to manage their diabetes and other disease states in a way that worked for each of them. “No two people are alike,” I would always tell them as we came up with strategies that would help them plan diabetes around their life instead of planning their life around diabetes. I saw patients from all walks of life, but the patients who always secretly stole my sympathy were the caregivers.

Caregivers are in charge of meeting the needs of another person. At the beginning of your life, it was your parents who cared for you, then maybe a spouse who helped you out around the house, and finally, life seems to come full circle as you start to look to your children for help. Many of my caregiver patients were in a busy time of life with the excitement of grandbabies and their own children looking to them for parenting advice while, at the same time, their parents are trying to maintain independence, but find that there are just some things that they can’t do on their own anymore.

It can be a very rewarding experience to be there for someone you love and who needs you, but there is a significant amount of stress that can come with that responsibility. Be wary. It is easy to fall into the trap of putting everyone else’s needs above your own. But don’t!

Many of my patients would come to me because their health was spiraling out of control; they were exhausted, depressed and needed help finding a place to start. Asking for help is one of the best things you can do for both yourself and the person you care for. No one person can do it all, so focus on what is achievable, what is reasonable and findothers to help you with the rest.

You are not alone. There are many out there who are in a similar position. There are classes for caregivers, support groups and businesses designed to relieve the workload. Get plugged in. Check with your local pharmacy to find a program to help alleviate the burden of managing medications. These programs check in each month with the patient to address any barriers or issues and stay on top of the health of the patient.

Lastly, don’t forget about you. You can’t be Superwoman when you aren’t well yourself. I suppose there are some “Supermen” out there, too; we can’t forget them. Be sure to set aside time for friends and family and make time for exercise and sleep. Just like the airlines teach in the safety demonstration — you have to help yourself first so that you are better able to help others.

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