When you dwell on frustration, the focus on negative thoughts can make daily tasks more challenging. It is not unusual to experience tension. And tension could put you into a negative state before there is real difficulty.
If the suggestions offered here don’t fit your situation, use them as a starting place to do your own brainstorming. Changing the atmosphere may be a work in progress rather than a simple x.
You may get frustrated because your care partner’s personality is so different than it was in the past, because it’s a struggle to get tasks done, because you feel at risk for an injury working with your care partner, or for any number of good reasons. You might become frustrated by unexpected demands, such as picky eating or bowel and bladder accidents.
Tension between you and your care partner can increase the risk of an injury. Increasing calm interactions between you and your care partner can reduce frustration during transfers and other challenging daily tasks.
If your care partner has difficulties with moods, making the mood calmer can be especially helpful in reducing unexpected episodes of upset or agitation. Being calm and connected can help reduce the risk of another source of injury, physical combativeness.
Remaining calm and connected while still managing the changes life has dealt you and your care partner is not always easy. Sometimes activities you enjoyed in your former life aren’t feasible and too much time is spent watching TV and managing daily living basics.
Listed below are some options that allow you to relate to your care partner and provide pleasure for both of you:
Choose music you both enjoy. Play music that is calming to reduce agitation, or upbeat to promote participation. You could use a favorite radio station or internet site. Some people load favorite music onto an MP3 player or cell phone, add speakers, and then listen with their care partner.
If your care partner has memory issues, music is organizing and might enhance positive mood and increase participation in daily activities. Just a note, not everyone likes calming music. If your care partner likes Gilbert and Sullivan, marches, or jazz, it is alright to play these.
Observing nature does not require memory or physical ability. Taking your care partner for a wheelchair walk in the park is an opportunity to be outside and notice nature. It is both stimulating and calming to many. Similarly, there are botanic gardens and greenhouses you can visit.
Focus on natural beauty; many find it calming. Even a care partner with limited memory can participate and enjoy the experience in the moment. If you are confined indoors, the action around a bird feeder viewed through a window can offer simple entertainment. Sitting and watching the birds with your care partner for even 10 minutes can be a source of stimulation and calm. It might even bring joy.
Games offer an opportunity to relate. If your care partner was a game player in the past, those are the best games. If games of the past, such as bridge, are too hard, try simple game such as Go Fish or Parcheesi.
Consider your care partner’s abilities and interests in choosing games. The current trend toward adult coloring books is another option for an activity you might be able to do together.
It is easy to get wrapped up in required activity or the frustrations of the day. Make some time to laugh. Maybe you have funny memories you share. Maybe you can read each other jokes from an online source. Sometimes you can just laugh about everyday things.
Humor is a wonderful outlet for frustration. Many argue that laughter is good medicine.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Bull Publishing Company. Copyright 2018.
Building Better Caregivers: A Family Caregiver's Guide to Reducing Stress and Staying Healthy
By Kate Lorig, DrPH, Diana Laurent, MPH, Robert Schreiber, MD Maureen Gecht-Silver, OTD. MPH, OTR/L Dolores Gallagher Thompson, PhD, ABPP Marian Minor, RPT, PhD Virginia González, MPH David Sobel, MD, MPH Danbi Lee, PhD, OTD, OTR/L
Today more than 40 million people in the U.S. find themselves responsible for caring for a parent, relative, or friend. Building Better Caregivers, developed by the author team of the bestselling Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, shares the best in caregiving research and the most important lessons learned from thousands of caregivers. With a focus on reducing stress through the use of practical skills and tools, this book will help you manage your caregiving tasks so you can maintain a happy, fulfilling life while also meeting your caregiving obligations.
Click here for more info and/or to order this paperback book and/or download the Kindle edition.
Kate Lorig, DrPH, is director and professor emerita at Stanford University School of Medicine's Patient Education Research Center.
Diana Laurent, MPH, is a health educator and trainer at Stanford Patient Education Research Center.
The Building Better Caregivers program was originally a internet-based program, developed and pilot tested within the United States Department of Veteran Affairs in California, Southern Nevada, and Hawaii for family members and informal caregivers who take care of veterans or are veterans with tramatic brain injury (TBI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, or diagnosed memory impairment. The community-based program is based on the internet model. It was tested in a successful, 1-year longitudinal study at sites in California and Ohio. For more info: https://www.selfmanagementresource.com/programs/small-group/building/