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Actions to Take to Cope With Caregiver and Patient Breakdowns
Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Denver, CO
Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Actions to Take to Cope With Caregiver and Patient Breakdowns

The Caring Generation®—Episode 191, April 24, 2024. Caregiver and patient breakdowns can be physical and emotional. Anxiety, fear, and worry often complicate relationships and the ability to heal. Learn tips from caregiving Pamela D Wilson about creating balance in situations where distress feels overwhelming.

Caregiving: How to Avoid Physical and Emotional Breakdowns


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Caregiver and patient breakdowns can happen in various ways and situations. Physical and emotional health can breakdown due to ongoing stress or advancing illness. Communication can breakdown when open and honest discussions do not occur. Relationships can breakdown when expectations go unmet or are not set. Progress can breakdown when follow-through is not thorough, or details are missed.
Gain insights into how caregiver and patient breakdowns happen and steps to create positive change and transformation in your life.

1 Believing That Caregiving Will Be a Short-Term Project

Individuals new to caregiving often believe that helping out a parent or moving into a parent’s home to care for them for six months will be short-term. Five or ten years later, when the caregiver is in the same position, regrets occur.
The challenge for all caregivers is to realize that caregiving is new territory. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you may not know what questions to ask. The future is unpredictable.
So, when accepting caregiving responsibilities, it’s important to understand the big picture and short- and long-term consequences of the responsibility you accept.

I didn’t have a choice

Caregivers say I didn’t have a choice. There was no one else.
Whether you want to admit it or not, caregiving is a choice made to trade parts of life. Be willing to investigate options for care immediately so that you don’t find yourself stuck and unable to move forward in your life weeks, months, or years from now.
Realize the effect that caregiving responsibilities can have on your life. Learn to set caregiver boundaries.
If you need care, realize the effect of worry and illness on your thoughts and your health. While some health diagnoses may be hereditary, others are not. Learn how to be a good patient and advocate for yourself. 
Caregivers and care receivers experience different emotional and physical battles contributing to relationship breakdowns.
  • Don’t think caregiving will be a short-term project unless you have that conversation and set expectations upfront. Be honest about the effect of time and responsibilities on your life.
  • As a patient, become more informed about health conditions, the consequences of choices to participate in treatment, and the actions you can take to manage health concerns. Cultivate a proactive and preventative attitude.
Honest conversations can help avoid caregiver and patient relationship breakdowns.

2 Develop Empathy and Use Your Experience as a Caregiver to Prepare for Your Eventual Need for Care

Realize that life can change in the blink of an eye. Life changes with age.
It’s essential to have a health and well-being plan. Young, healthy, and independent people can’t imagine needing help from another person even though they might help others.
When a health problem arises, or help is needed, reality strikes. This experience gap is similar to someone who is not a caregiver having difficulty understanding why caregivers are so stressed.
Difficulties happen to other people. Then, one day, they happen to you.

How will you care for yourself medically and financially to avoid caregiver and patient breakdowns?

A health and well-being plan means creating a medical and financial plan. This website offers a webinar program called Caring for Aging Parents that discusses this topic in great detail.
Questions to ask:
  • What happens when more care is needed and more time is needed?
  • Who realistically helps?
  • What happens if or when you can no longer live alone?
  • What are you doing daily to remain as healthy as possible?
The word burden is often associated with caregiving. Aging parents don’t want to be a burden to their children.
Caregivers view the duty, responsibility, and time involved as a burden. If you don’t want to be burdened or feel burdened, how will you change your thinking about planning ahead?
What actions will you take today, this week, and this month to preserve your health and well-being?

3 Caregivers feel guilty

Not doing enough. Feeling frustrated or angry about being frustrated and angry. Losing patience with aging parents or loved ones.
The list of reasons caregivers feel guilty can be never-ending.
To solve this situation, work to understand why you feel guilty, frustrated, angry, isolated, or resentful. All emotions have foundations.
One way to manage guilt is not to allow others to tell you that you’re not doing enough or you’re not good enough. Caregivers, like everyone else, do the best they can under the circumstances.
Additionally, guilt can have a foundation in parent-child relationships that may have been abusive. Adult children seek to please parents who will never give appreciation or recognition by sacrificing their lives to be caregivers.

Identify the root of feelings

If you feel guilty, look at your personal motivations and why you feel frustrated, angry, isolated, or resentful. Are you doing what you do because you want approval from a parent or other people? Are you angry at others because they are not helping and you’re doing all the work?
Every day is an opportunity to choose differently. Work to gain insights about the motivations for thinking or doing.
By understanding where thoughts and motivations come from, it’s possible to manage caregiver and patient breakdowns in all parts of life.

Accept that others may be equally if not more, stressed and distracted

Here’s an example of different thought patterns between caregivers and aging parents.
The caregiver worked tirelessly to organize and sell a home so parents could move into assisted living and was upset because the parents had not expressed appreciation.
My response to the caregiver:
“You are the angel who is helping your parents because they can’t help themselves right now. They are probably scared to death about moving, scared about their health, scared about a million things.
Being thankful is probably the last thing on their mind as they work to manage through fear and uncertainty. Your need for appreciation is about you, while your parents may need kindness, empathy, and compassion.“
Making assumptions about how others should feel can lead to caregiver and patient breakdowns. When in doubt about what someone else is thinking or about their intentions, ask.

4 Recognize When Physical and Emotional Health is Near Breakdown

When you feel that life is going sideways, take immediate steps to evaluate the situation, identify the problem, and create solutions. This path to health and well-being is different for everyone.
Here are two suggestions that might help:
  • Look at your problem-solving and coping abilities and the patterns in your life, and work to become mentally and physically strong before you need to be. Prepare for the storm, but hope for the best.
  • Understand the reasons self-care is non-negotiable—it’s a must.
Einstein said we can’t solve problems at the level we created them. This means learning to think differently instead of getting stuck in thought and belief patterns.

Meet people where they are

Part of addressing physical and emotional health means realizing where people are in life. The aspect of meeting people where they are is not always considered when judgment arises about why people do what they do–especially siblings who won’t help.
For example, if someone is barely surviving to pay the bills and experiencing physical and emotional breakdown, they are at a very different place in life than someone who is financially stable and doesn’t have to worry about money.
The daily thoughts of these two individuals are vastly different. So, while self-care may be a solution for one person, for others, day-to-day thoughts focus on survival.

Transform thought

Let’s look at an example of mental transformation. We’ve all been cut off by another car in traffic or had someone jump in front of us in line at the store.
It’s easy to become offended when this happens. We might not react nicely because we take the actions of someone who does not know us personally.
On the other hand, as we gain life experiences and new perspectives, the same event may happen, and instead of reacting, we become the observer.
As a result, we’re cut off in traffic or line. Instead of a negative reaction, the first thought is, “That person must be in a hurry. It’s okay. I’m not in a rush. They can go in front of me.”
So, as you have different life experiences, priorities change, and skills improve, outside things have less control over life because of mental transformation.
Responses to physical and emotional breakdown can also relate to how capable we see ourselves of reacting to unexpected and ongoing stress that never seems to end.
Is your first thought, I’ve got this, or do you panic? The minute we think we know how something might work out—life can surprise us with different results.

5 Examine your personal accountability level

Asking yourself these questions might help you identify how you respond to challenges or problems in life. Do you hold yourself accountable, or do you blame other circumstances?
  • Do you constantly dwell on the negatives?
  • How have you solved problems in the past?
  • What skills do you have that can solve this issue?
  • Do you need new information or new skills?
  • Do you blame others for life circumstances?
  • What motivates you to do what you do?
  • How do you respond to unexpected issues?
  • What is the story behind the way you think?

6 Realize that caregivers and care receivers experience different physical and emotional struggles

 Caregivers fear worsening health or the death of loved ones. They fear loss of being able to choose their well-being over others. Loss of time, the pursuit of enjoyable activities, time with friends and family, fear of job loss, marriage breakdown, and more are common caregiver concerns.
People who need care—patients—fear worsening health and death. Additionally, worry exists about pain and suffering related to health problems that can advance in severity. It may be that these individuals lost a job due to health issues, worry about money to pay for healthcare, or are isolated or depressed.
Like caregivers who feel they have no choice but to become caregivers, the hope for a cure or health improvement can make patients feel like they have no choice but to participate in care or treatment.
Cancer patients who undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Persons with liver problems may require dialysis treatment several days a week.
Being a caregiver or being sick and undergoing treatment can feel like a daily battle to fight for and find the good in life.

7 Commit to Self-transformation

When sadness, stress, and physical or mental exhaustion occur in life, the mind and thoughts can become stuck in these feelings. When there is a lack of control in life, the mind seeks more control. Challenging circumstances result in mental battles with the guests one invites into the mind.
There is a saying that form follows consciousness. What you think becomes your reality. Why allow thoughts into your reality that will lead you to self-destructive behaviors?
Exposure to negative information on the news, difficult interactions with others, self-doubt, and worry can become destructive forces. Thoughts can be an enemy attracting time and attention.
You decide which thoughts get attention and which are sent away. You decide how you spend your mental and physical time.

Find inspiration and hope

caregiver support and educationFind information that inspires you to do and be better in all aspects of your life. Be intentional in meditation, prayer, reading, watching television or videos, listening to podcasts or music, attending meetings or social events, and spending time with friends.
Take consistent daily action to make positive thoughts and behaviors a habit. Habits take at least 30 days to become a pattern, although you might notice positive changes before this.
There are 12 months in a year. Interestingly, some days can seem exceedingly long even though they are all 24 hours, and some months seem to pass quickly.
What will you do with the time you have today? What will you improve upon today, this week, or this month?  What self-care activity will you do today?
Be intentional every day to make time for mental and physical improvement, and you will see your life begin to change and transform.

Looking For Help Caring for Elderly Parents? Find the Information, Including Step-by-Step Processes, in Pamela’s Online Program.

©2024 Pamela D. Wilson All Rights Reserved
The post Actions to Take to Cope With Caregiver and Patient Breakdowns appeared first on Pamela D Wilson | The Caring Generation.

   Check Out Podcast Replays of The Caring Generation® Radio Program for Caregivers and Aging Adults HERE

Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA, is an international caregiver subject matter expert, advocate, speaker, and consultant. With more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, fiduciary, and care manager in the fields of caregiving, health, and aging, she delivers one-of-a-kind support for family caregivers and aging adults.

Pamela may be reached at +1 303-810-1816 or through her website.

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Name: Pamela Wilson
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Dateline: Golden, CO United States
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