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Caregiving: How Fear & Caregiving Burnout Results in Harm to Loved Ones
Pamela D. Wilson -- Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker Pamela D. Wilson -- Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker
Golden , CO
Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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Golden, Colorado – June 18, 2019

Caregiving: How Fear & Caregiving Burnout Results in Harm to Loved Ones

"I can't. That won't work. I don't have time to do that. I've tried that. My aging parent or spouse will never do that. I can't afford that." These are common statements from caregivers to caregiving expert, Pamela D. Wilson, from caregivers who say that they want help but who refuse help the second a suggestion is offered.

What is it about caregiving that results in closed minds, lack of decision making, and potential harm?

How To Recognize A Closed Mind

The easiest way to recognize if we have a closed mind is to look for a no or an immediate refusal when a suggestion or idea is presented. For example, it is common for aging parents to "dig in their heels" when approached with a new idea.

A new idea might be using a walker to avoid the negative consequence of serious fall, a hip fracture, and having to live in a care home. Using a walker is a logical concept to the adult child who is the caregiver watching an aging parent stumble or lose balance when walking.  

Using a walker is an emotional concept to an aging parent who responds with an immediate no. The aging parent brain thinks, "Only old people use walkers. I'm not old. Using a walker is embarrassing. It means I need help, and I'm not in control." For aging adults, loss of control and the fear of change are front and center. This fear results in immediate noes and refusals.

According to Wilson, aging parents default to emotional responses in place of thinking about the mindset of the caregiver who may be focusing on other priorities -- the consequences of risky actions. If the caregiver gives the conversation space by saying, "think about this and we can talk about it again later," the idea of a walker may be accepted. That being said aging parents have the right to make poor decisions and to refuse the walker.

Caregiving Burnout Closes Minds

Caregivers who experience stress about roles and responsibilities become highly stressed. Caregiving burnout has the same effect as a closed mind. Caregivers who are burned out, shut out the outside world to get through the day.

When burnout happens, caregivers are less interested in collaborating for the best outcome. They prefer to be right. They don't like disagreements. Caregivers become overwhelmed and too exhausted to invest time or energy to discuss differing opinions and consider suggestions.

At a high level of caregiver stress, the brain shuts down and closes the door to problem-solving processes that transfer decision-making. Considering new ideas, asking questions, and asking for help are viewed to have more risk than benefit.

Opportunities to take any action are quickly dismissed by the burned-out caregiving brain. There is a tendency not to "see the forest for the trees." This saying means that caregivers focus on small details and minor frustrations instead of looking at the bigger picture of caregiving issues. Caregiver roles and responsibilities are dismissed in favor of short-term fixes.

Two Things That Caregivers Fear the Most

The two things that caregivers fear the most are asking for help and asking questions. Aging parents needing care have similar fears.

Asking is a component of being open-minded. Open minded caregivers approach obstacles and caregiving issues differently. There is an eagerness to learn, to solve problems, a willingness to consider ideas and to be wrong.

Positive Results Happen When Trust Exists in Caregiver Support Programs and Courses

Few people understand what it is like to be a caregiver. Even fewer understand the life of a 24/7 caregiver. Caregivers experience criticism and judgment from family members and outsiders who build up the intensity that prevents caregivers from taking actions about the two things that caregivers fear the most.

In caregiving support groups and courses when caregivers feel listened to and trust the facilitator, asking for help and asking questions become easy. The focus of the caregiving issues become the health and well-being of a loved one, and the health and well-being of the caregiver. Doubts about skills and abilities are set aside. Caregiver burnout, stress, and anxiety lessen.

By eliminating the two things that caregivers fear the most and becoming open-minded, caregiving roles and responsibilities take on a more positive light. Caregiving relationships improve. Caregiving issues that were previously intimidating become more routine. Problems are more easily solved.  

For more information about caregiver support programs and courses offered by Pamela D. Wilson,  including the most commonly asked questions, CLICK HERE

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Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA, a National Certified Guardian and Certified Senior Advisor, is a caregiving thought leader, elder care expert, advocate, and speaker. Pamela offers family caregivers programming and support to navigate the challenges of providing, navigating, and planning for care. She guides professionals practicing in estate planning, elder and probate law, and financial planning to create plans to address unexpected concerns identified in her past role as a professional fiduciary. Healthcare professionals are supported by Pamela’s expertise to increase responsiveness and sensitivity to the extensive range of care challenges faced by care recipients and caregivers. Contact Pamela HERE

Pamela D. Wilson, Inc.
Golden, CO
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