Changes to you, actually

If you have been caring for someone for more than a few years, it doesn’t take long before you notice little things such as soreness in your neck, shoulders, etc. from how you sit everyday at doctor appointments or how you position yourself behind the wheel of the car.

Much like furniture finishers, factory workers, and keyboard warriors, repetitive motion is a plague to our human bodies. My acupuncturist noticed that my shoulders are un-even. My right side is wonky.

Coincidentally, (Really? Is that really a coincidence?🤣) it’s the side of my dominant arm. I use it to hold on to my husband when he forgets to put on his leg brace. I use it to lift him up off of a chair or catch him when he is stumbling when his bad leg collapses.

Sometimes I am hanging on to him with the one arm and in the other, carrying books, drinks, and my purse. I try to have the foresight to switch to a cross body bags on those days, but hey, “caregiver brain” is a real thing. It is similar to “pregnancy brain”, but sadly mine never bounced back after having my son. So I guess I have “caregiver/preggo brain”🤣

I used to think that caregiving impacted the person receiving the care as it is their health that has changed and they need the assistance to accomplish their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

So, what do you do to remedy this? Physical therapy, yoga, belly dancing, and good old fashioned yard work. Acute pain is managed by ice packs, heat therapy, prescriptions, RF Ablations, deep tissue massage, and chiropractors. Occasionally, I get acupuncture, which is really helpful.

If you are in the central Texas area and need an acupuncturist, let me know as I have a great one. Whether you believe in chiros or not, that is up to you. I know there is a whole scene of contentiousness when it comes to any sort of alternative medicine. I am not debating that here. My blog, my rules.

I will not promote essential oils. They do not magically repair degenerative disc disease, heal a TBI (traumatic brain injury), or fix my caregiver brain. They make things smell nice and can enhance the mood. Never put lavender oil on skin infected with poison ivy. I can tell you that really made it 3 times worse. I found that out the hard way. 😪

Stretch every morning when you get up. It really helps. If you are not getting any exercise in at all during your week, it will contribute to more pain and further degeneration of your body. Have you seen those old videos of seniors over age 70 doing amazing yoga? Well, the old adage of you use it or lose it is legitimate. Treat your body like gold.

You learn after a few years of caregiving that your body isn’t your own anymore. Any potential illness or injury can impact the live of those you care for. If you are carrying extra weight, work on losing it. If you smoke, work on reducing it. If you take recreational drugs, well share them. Just kidding. (Had to put a break of humor in there.) There are aps like Lose It, Baritastic, and others that help you track your food, exercise, water, vitamins, etc. You can get as complicated with that as you like.

Think of what would happen to that person you care for if the worst happens to you. Plan for that so your loved ones are prepared. Get your funeral pre-planned and paid so your kids don’t have to pay $14K to bury you. It is cruel to not plan your final exit. Funerals cost a lot of money and life insurance takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to pay out. Get a will in place. Get guardianship set up for your care recipient.

You matter. Take care of you. Like the annoying cliché of the oxygen mask…you take the breath first then share with your loved one. At the end of the day if you haven’t done one thing for yourself, make that a goal for the next day. There is no way to sustain caregiver life and avoid burnout if you do not do that.

Well, there are some tips for you. Don’t forget to tip your waitress. If you want to send me a tip, I can provide you with a Venmo. 😁

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