HOW I FOUND MY RHYTHM WHEN THE MUSIC STOPPED

At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.

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THE MAN IN A BLUE SARONG

I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.

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PATIENT “OWNERSHIP”

I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.

….FULL ARTICLE

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Many families who try to take on the responsibilities of the caregiver role act out of a sense of obligation and guilt. Usually a wife, daughter, or daughter in law becomes the primary caregiver, however there are some men who find themselves with the responsibility. For the Grandparent who has taken the role it is often the only possible choice. Other family members tend to back away from helping as time goes on. Unfortunately, as time passes the individual being cared for will require the same care or more attention than they did the first day of care. Family relationships become strained. Anger and resentment may develop.


As a medical professional, you can give your patients advice concerning ways to reduce the stress and anxiety that often comes with caregiving. Some of the following steps may make a meaningful difference:



Most family caregivers can wear down quickly due to the added responsibility. As a medical professional, it is important to support and follow up. As we all know recommendations coming from a doctor are more likely to be followed than a suggestion from a family member.

If you are the physician, recognizing the symptoms of Caregiver Burnout Syndrome is essential. According to A.A.R.P. it is estimated less than 50% of doctors ask caregivers if they are experiencing any burnout symptoms or high stress.


Symptoms are characterized by physical and emotional exhaustion, depression, anxiety, bouts of anger, withdrawal, impaired thinking and performance, and most often a feeling of being overwhelmed and guilt. These symptoms are often manifested in actual or phantom aches and pains giving the individual an excuse for not dealing with the real issues of the burnout.


When we think of caregivers we most often imagine someone taking care of an elderly or disabled person. However, we should consider another group as well and that is grandparents taking on the role of raising their grandchildren. The stresses encountered by both groups can be debilitating.


Caregivers are some of the most selfless and underappreciated people you will ever encounter and are also extremely high on the list for stress related disease. They push themselves beyond reasonable limits to be accountable 24 hours a day 7 days a week to care for their loved ones. The additional responsibilities often result in neglecting their own needs. Many have neglected to tell their health care providers that they have become caregivers and it is therefore incumbent upon the physician to enquire about the home situation.

BY DR. DANI VANDIVIERE

As medical professionals, you and your staff are the first line of defense.  As burnout occurs you may notice the signs far more readily than family members due to your separation from the emotions and associated stress a caregiver may be experiencing.


Symptoms to watch for with both the caregiver and those they care for:


DR. DANI VANDIVIERE

Dr. Dani Vandiviere is a conflict and bullying specialist and CEO of Summit Conflict Resolutions and Trainings. She is the President of the Bluegrass Continuity of Care Association, a founding member of KY Association of Senior Services, a member Association for Gerontology, and an Elder Care Conflict Trainer and Mediator. She also offers training programs for the workers in the Eldercare industry, medical professional, elder’s families, organizations and businesses.

To learn more contact Dr. Dani at www.summitcrt.com, dani@summitcrt.com or 859-305-1900.