By francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear Francy: I have a 10 yr old daughter and 83 yr old mother living with me. I am disabled and under continual pain. The stress level in our home is so high, it’s not healthy. I know we all feel it and react badly to it and I am responsible for changing it. But how?
Let’s just start with change, you can find change for you and that will affect both your mom and daughter. So, you are on the right track. I know that no magic wand removes pain or stress but you can learn to live with it in a way that does not do damage to you and others. I have a few ideas that I have used both for myself and for those I care- for I hope you will find some of them helpful for you.
Calming Pain and Stress:
- Pain can be controlled if it stays within an area that is workable. Pain clinics will help anyone with medications that can be used, but learning the timing of them and the additional over the counter meds is really important. Sometimes it’s not the Rx but when you take the Rx. I have been off pain meds for my back for years, but I still take Ibuprofen before I go out and do any physical chores. The before makes the difference. Timing, it is in the timing. So take note of this and talk to a pain specialist, not just your doctors. They have ideas that are terrific. Pain can be constant and still allow you to live a life, but you have to get it to a range that you can work with on a daily basis.
- Stress is a building situation. It will start small and then just roll downhill like a snowball during the day. To STOP it in its tracks, you have to know your own stress key. If you feel a slight head ache, if you hear your voice tone going lower, if you see the senior or family reacting badly to you- Take note you are out of balance. Take a break, walk away and always breathe three deep breaths. That allows the oxygen to come back into your brain.
- Pain will take you out, if it’s constant, even finding times in the day that it can ebb is important. So make sure you keep notes on your pain or stress and rank it from 1-5 during the day. You may immediately find clues to the ups and downs.
- Evening Pain when it is time to make dinner is always hard on everyone with pain. So my tip is to make dinner prep in the morning when you are doing your breakfast and lunch. Use the slow cooker a lot and then dinner is just a pickup.
- Pain every other day. It is an old trick of those of us that live with continued pain that we do certain tasks every other day. That way we do not overload our life, yet we live our life. One day you plan to dust and vacuum, the next day you stretch, rest or go for a walk. One day you sit at the computer for a few hours the next day you stand and the clean the kitchen. Changing daily tasks keeps your body from grabbing hold to pain in any one particular point.
- Pain/15 minutes break. My sister had a very bad back like mine and she developed a 15 minute rule. Like many that take a 15 minute break, she would take a 15 minute physical work time and then sit down and rest for a few minutes and start again. She was able to paint the inside of her home, work in the garden and clean, by just going slow. It takes a lot of discipline in these fast times of ours. But you would be surprised at the work you get done with very low pain received from doing it!
- Stress over what? If you do keep your journal and write about your pain or stress, you will be able to see the launch points. Words, deeds, multi-tasking what is your weak point that sets you off? You are the one that has to do the work to find that out. So you can avoid it or change your mind towards the event. Down load a Journal program for your computer and get in the habit of writing a little bit about you each day. It is a good habit; it will help stress and stress or pain. I use Star Diary and love it, I downloaded it and paid around $10 for it and it has been a gift to myself. (you can have a password to keep it private)
- Get away. I know it is easy to say and hard to do. But you have to remove yourself from your home or work. Take time with one family member at a time, or just alone. That means that you go to the grocery store and do not go right home. Stop at a coffee shop and just sit with a coffee or tea and muse at the others in the shop. Let time bring your stress down and go home relaxed, instead of exhausted from shopping.
- BE verbal. I would find myself on the edge so often when I had mother in my home for 24/7 care. I would just tell my husband; “I am sorry if I am not pleasant today, I just feel totally stressed.” He would usually go and sit with mom and get her calmed down and give me time for a bath, nap or just sitting quietly alone. I did not have to ask for his help, but I would have asked if I needed it. Talking to family and not keeping it to yourself is really important. I would tell mother I was taking a down day. She would then know that I was going to give her food and respond to her bell when she needed me, but I would be taking a nap, reading or be out in the garden and she was fine on those days. We just had to work together.
- Taking a trip from anywhere without travel. This is the real gift that I hope I can give you. During days of bad chemo time, I learned how to do a self hypnosis/meditation that helped me so much. I have moved it into my normal life pattern and now it is part of who I am. A simple start; just take a break anywhere and be quiet, close your eyes and think of a place you would like to be. It may be on the beach or hiking in the woods, or shopping at the mall. It is your thoughts that bring you to a place that makes you comfortable and smile. Be at that place and just rest there, feel the breeze, smell the surroundings and feel the warmth or cold. Be there in your mind, so when you open your eyes you have a feeling of renew – The more you do this simple exercise the better you get- the more places you go – the more relaxed and eased with your pain or stress.
- I have always got a book developing in my mind or a project that I am working on – inside my head. When I have quiet time, I think about it and I am right there looking at it and making it work. This will take me out of deep pain and deep stress. My mind starts to become involved in this complex dreaming state. Like remodeling a home step by step, creating a garden step by step, cooking a meal step by step. My mind goes through the steps and before you know it, you’re pain is lowered and your stress is dropping away.
- Finally, no excuses. I try hard not to give myself excuses for my behavior. I do apologize to others if I find myself difficult. But I do not explain why I am difficult. My pain, worries or stress is not their life, it’s mine. I have to deal with it, change it and move on. I do sit down and share my problems with family and friends but I do not dwell on it nor do I talk about it without end. There is a difference between sharing and getting support and driving family and friends crazy. We all have to know those lines.
Looking for help and finding others that have similar problems is really a good thing. Keep the sharing positive with ideas of support and change. Twitter, chat rooms and local support groups with similar situations as your own make a huge difference. But they are not places to go dump! They are places to ask questions, share experiences and ideas and give your own support to others. In return you will learn so much about your own situation and how to better it.
I love the fact that you take on the idea of change for good- for YOU and not change for others. That is really the key, only you can change you and that change, no matter how slight, will ripple out to your friends, family and co workers. Your investment in solving your stress and pain will result in your everyday world really improving in quality.
Thank you for writing to me. I would like to invite you to my web site for other information www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
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