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    DETERMINE    WHY YOU FEEL      SO TRAPPED

Don’t Want Company – The very action that could help with the feeling of being trapped is far too often shunned. Help from others, regardless of who they are, is not enough sought or utilized when available. Why? Because in most cases the caregiver is caught up in the duties, too busy to organize any form of socialization for the patient or for himself or herself. Friends or other associates, including those who could help attack the problem, are too seldom, if at all, contacted and possibly worse yet, they are thought not to be of help, and their potential to help is generally underestimated.

What Is the Process – Neither being alone or lonely is the same as feeling trapped. Most caregivers know there are options to correct being alone such as inviting friends, etc. to come and visit your loved patient or go out for dinner, or go to a movie. The problem with those kinds of solutions is the caregiver chooses not to use them.  Instead, caregivers tend to choose to be alone, thus further advancing the eventual feeling of entrapment. But the feeling of being alone is one of desperate anxiety. The trapped individual normally believes there is absolutely no way to escape.  Other causes of entrapment have to do with too much work, the severity of the sickness or accident, and the absence of people who can help.  It is the feeling that there are zero options to choose.

 

Withdrawal From Previous Habits and Lifestyle - While friends continue on their daily routines, some caregivers are left to feel alone in their caregiving duties. Likewise, caregivers without support from other caregivers in similar situations may feel as though no one really understands their situation. This can lead to a withdrawal from social activities and relationships that they previously enjoyed. However, some caregivers may also find they are literally facing isolation. For instance, a spouse caring for a partner may be providing care on a 24 hour basis. Although not all caregivers will experience such serious physical and emotional effects caused by isolation or loneliness, even the slightest feeling of being alone can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. (22)

Caregiver Burden - We are indebted to Pamela D. Wilson, CSA, MS, BS/BA, CG for the following observations:

"Caregiver burden represents the emotional, physical, and financial aspects and responsibilities of providing care and support for an ailing family member. This is a subject rarely discussed because most caregivers would be embarrassed to show feelings of exhaustion, frustration, or anxiety; believing that caregiving is something that one is obligated to do for a loved one. The idea of the caregiving trap is also controversial, especially among caregivers who are filled with guilt. What “good” caregiver would ever admit feeling trapped by caregiving for a loved one?

 

Many caregivers and care receivers—if they are honest– admit to feeling trapped. Caregivers are trapped by real-life example that include meal preparation, medication reminding, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, grocery shopping, changing bed linens, laundry, maintaining the household, sorting mail, paying bills—the list of caregiving tasks is endless. For a short period of time providing a great amount of care is sustainable. For longer periods, realistic discussions and plans are necessary in order for caregivers to maintain physical and psychological well-being."

 

Make a Plan – So the feeling of entrapment can be real. Contractors could not build a house or a building without a plan, games cannot be played without a plan, wars cannot be fought without a plan, and just as surely, ending the situation of being trapped cannot vanish without a plan. Plans can be typed into a computer or written on scratch paper, but regardless of the method, the plan should be recorded. A good caregiver’s plan might include causes, condition, who is involved, who might possibly help, what is the timing, and how the plan is to be activated by whom and when. One use of such a written plan is to refer to it. If it is worth making a plan, it is worth making it available for follow-up.

Final Thought - We conclude this article with a comment made by Carol Bradley Bursack, Editor-in-Chief of ElderCareLink.com:

"Human beings, especially loving human beings, seem to have a penchant for "beating themselves up" over imperfections. This isn't the place to go into all the various psychological issues that make us feel we need to do everything perfectly, but the most common and obvious issues generally stem from trying to please our parents by being very, very good, and not feeling as if we measure up."

But we can measure up. We can decide not to be a victim of our own guilt. Make a plan to escape!