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Caregiver Training Blog

Caregiver Stress: The Other Side of the Doorknob

door edited1As you place your hand on the doorknob to enter a room do you ever stop to think about what you might encounter on the other side of that door? What will you find or experience as you step over the threshold? Anytime we are about to walk into a room what waits for us on the other side of the door may be an expected scene or perhaps something so surprising and unanticipated that it may change our life or the life of someone else! As caregivers, regardless of whether we are caring for someone in our home, a nursing home, hospital or hospice, we probably experience these moments of not knowing what to expect each and every time we walk through the door to extend care for our patient or loved one. Learning ways to cope with what often times is unexpected is an important aspect of caregiving.

Dealing with every day stresses is certainly difficult enough – when we turn off our alarm to catch a few more winks of shut eye and then bolt out of bed ten minutes before having to leave for work can elevate your blood pressure and cause some nervous tension. That is probably the kind of scenario that is played out on a daily basis and we learn to cope with it, but there is also the type of life coping that is needed when caring for a parent or spouse with dementia or another life-threatening illness. There are many different ways people have of managing stress and maintaining the ongoing strength needed while attempting to accept a particular serious situation in caring for someone. As a caregiver, how do you manage? Do you ask for help? Do you take time to reflect on what you can realistically achieve both physically and emotionally? Or do you reach for the doorknob and run as fast and far as you can?  Caregiving can be a lonely, isolating role, but only if you allow it to be. Reaching out for help, accepting support from relatives, friends, and neighbors is not a sign of weakness, but rather an acceptance that life is sometimes difficult and help is appreciated.

Dr. Edward P. Shafranske, Ph.D, a professor of Psychology from Pepperdine University presents a two part series on The Nature of Coping:  A Caregiver Perspective. This series also includes a separate Q&A Session from the audience.

The recorded webcasts were initially presented as part of mmLearn.org's recent annual Spirituality & Aging Caregiver Conference. Dr. Shafranske's message regarding caregiver stress and managing the multiple caregiving roles continues to provide words of insight and comfort to caregivers.  Go to mmLearn.org to watch this excellent conversation as well as other videos for caregivers and next time you are about to reach for that doorknob, you may see and be able to cope with stressful situations just a little bit differently.