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Maintaining Independence For The Carerecipient And Yourself
One of the most important issues you will face as a caregiver is helping the one you care for to remain as independent as possible while remaining independent yourself.

If the individual you care for is in danger of losing their autonomy as a result of their dependency on you in order to have certain needs met, there will definitely be a sense of loss. It may result in a loss of self-esteem or confidence; perhaps even a loss of purpose or reason for living. We are conditioned to believe that we should be able to take care of ourselves forever. What happens when we are forced to become dependent on someone else in order to have our needs met?

As a caregiver, you may also lose a sense of your self, while living your life caring for your loved one. Caregivers who experience feelings of "isolation" is one of the most alarming statistics faced by those caring 24/7 for a loved one. Depression as well as low self-esteem takes over when one feels alone in this role.

In most cases, it is up to the caregiver to create the give and take in the relationship with the care-recipient. It involves creating a delicate balance between control and dependency. Your focus should be on maintaining as much freedom and dependency for all concerned parties. Maintaining independence for the care-recipient: Strive to create an environment with respect and dignity.

Encourage the one you care for on the importance of maintaining their independency.

Encourage them to engage in hobbies and activities, which they enjoy.

Encourage ways to keep their minds functioning and alert.

Find adaptive measures to help your loved one remain independent. Some examples are home modification, replacing buttons and zippers with Velcro where possible, adapting living areas to prevent falls, etc.

Arrange for activities outside the home at senior centers, childcare centers, or even respite centers.

Arrange for relatives, friends and volunteers to visit and spend time, as well as taking your loved one shopping, day trips, etc. Socializing outside the relationship with the caregiver is very important.

Take time for yourself each day to do something for yourself that you enjoy doing is essential for the caregiver in providing optimum care to the carerecipient. Maintaining independence for the caregiver: Partake in daily exercise in your home, take a walk, or engage in a sport that you love.
Take time to nurture yourself daily: i.e., hot baths, meditate, write in a journal, and read books you enjoy. Socialize with friends. Go out shopping, go for coffee, go to a movie, or any other interest that will keep you in touch with the outside world.

Develop a hobby or take on part time work.

Participate in activities that take your mind completely off caring for your loved one for a set period of time each day.

Seek out support groups both on and offline that help you to maintain your independence. Work through issues that may keep you isolated and trapped in your role as a caregiver.

In terms of control on behalf of both the care-recipient and caregiver it is important to learn how to say "no" and set boundaries. The person you are caring for may be caught up in their situation and making many demands which will conflict with other important things you must do during the day. By explaining to them the importance of communication, you will both maintain more autonomy.

If your loved one refuses to let outside help come in, you will have to assert yourself more, while respecting your loved one's needs - yours still must be met first. If you breakdown and are no longer capable of caring for them, who will be? There is a fine line in which to set these boundaries. You must find the one that will work best for the highest good of all concerned. In the case of a parent vs. and adult child, the attempts to control one another can be devastating - so proceed with care. Either individual may use manipulation in an attempt to cause guilt in the other. Neither should provoke the other to the extent that the results produced are not harmonious or beneficial to either one. If the situation becomes emotionally or physically abusive, then you must rely on the services of a professional to assist you in resolving the issues at hand.

As the primary caregiver for your loved one, it is up to you to initiate this important balance.

Richest blessings on your journey.

Gail Mitchell
Empowering Caregivers

Ms. Mitchell is the President and Founder of NOFEC. Her full-time caregiving experience began in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dadís passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: www.care-givers.com in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

She presents at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

For a list of client and or her resume, please contact info@nofec.org

Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada.Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

E-mail: info@care-givers.com
Web Site: http://www.care-givers.com

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