As a caregiver, you will be confronted daily with people, situations and events over which you have little or no control, and if you allow yourself to dwell on what might happen, you could easily become overwhelmed by fear.
In our online Caregiver Survival Training Course, I describe fear as one of the “3 Fs of Flipping Out” – the other two being frustration and fatigue. Most family caregivers fear how long their loved one’s disease is going to last, how bad it’s going to get and how much it’s going to cost.
I believe we each have three basic choices when it comes to fear:
- We can hide from it and pretend the threat doesn’t exist.
- We can obsess over it and let it keep us awake at night.
- We can face our fears by identifying what might happen, what is likely to happen, and what is the worst possible thing that could happen.
If you chose option A or B, there isn’t much you can do to alleviate your fear – it will probably continue to control you. However, if you decide to face your fear, here are five steps you can take that will give you a sense of empowerment and help you get prepared:
- Learn everything you can. Find out about your loved one’s disease, injury or condition.
- Talk to the doctor. Ask them what you should be prepared to expect as the disease progresses.
- Contact your local Area Agency on Aging. Together, you can find out which local programs and services are available to help you.
- Make an appointment with an elder law or estate-planning attorney. Make sure all of the end-of-life documents you’ll need are in order.
- Join a caregiver support group. You will discover that you aren’t alone and you will learn how other people are coping with similar situations.
As an additional resource, I also would like to invite you to visit our Caregiver Survival Program and watch an animated video, “Overcoming Caregiver Fear.”
Elaine K. Sanchez is the author of the unflinchingly honest and surprisingly funny book, “Letters from Madelyn, Chronicles of a Caregiver.” The second edition of her book is now available at a discount for pre-orders on Amazon. She is also the co-founder of CaregiverHelp.com, an online caregiver support program, and she frequently delivers keynotes, workshops and trainings at healthcare and caregiving conferences across the country. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.