Out From the Shadows


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A few months ago, the New Old Age blog in the New York Times ran a piece called Seeing The Invisible Patient, which cites an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association  (JAMA) calling for health care providers to be more tuned in to the caregivers of their patients -- and to be willing to provide referrals for resources that can help support them.

We’re all for that, but we don’t think it should stop there. We think caregivers themselves should be more clued in to their own needs, too.

The writer of the Times piece starts off, “Not once in the years I cared for my mother did any of her physicians ask me how I was doing. When was the last time I saw my own physician? Was I eating properly? Sleeping enough? Depressed?...Frankly, I didn’t notice their apparent lack of concern.”

When you’re caring for someone, these are some of the most basic questions you ask about their well-being every single day. But, all too often, caregivers are so caught up in the needs of their loved one that – when it comes to their own health – even the basics fall by the wayside.

This puts them at risk for caregiver distress, a real problem that can not only impact their own health and mental state, but can also affect the person for whom they are caring.

Just like the JAMA article suggests that health care providers be prepared with resources for the invisible patient, it’s important to shore up your own resources as well.

We offer a wealth of information on this very subject – in fact a whole site dedicated to it – on caregiverstress.com. You can assess your signs of stress, learn tips for stress relief, and relate with others who might be in the same boat.

There is no one-size-fits-all cure for the invisible patient, but here are some possible treatments:

  • Make your own medical appointments as much of a priority as your loved one’s and be forthright about whatever concerns you might have when you see your doctor
  • You may feel like you’re too busy for fun, but don’t isolate yourself. Consider joining a support group – either in person or online
  • Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly are not luxuries: they are the tools you need to get the job (any job) done
  • The next time someone says, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” take them up on it!
  • Consider hiring a professional CAREGiver to help with things such as cooking and cleaning for your loved one, bathing, transportation, attending medical appointments and other activities. For more information, please contact us!

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