July 2008

Eileen Wilkinson, Fairfax Comfort Keepers

Eileen had a number of tips and I thought many of them applied to everyone, not just caregivers.

• Throw out perfection. There is no way to predict how your day will go. Whatever you can do is a gift.
• Remain flexible and open – listen to your inner voice.
• Ask what the needs of the care receiver are and don’t stress if they change. Ask how he/she is feeling.
• Listen without judgment and with full attention. allow stories to be told repeatedly because it’s healing.
• Touches, hugs and gentle massage help to connect.
• What can other people do for the caregiver? One suggestion from the support group was to allow 20 minutes of nag time!
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help because it helps others to help you, like a reciprocal gift. Asking for help does not equal failure!
• A sense of order is energetic. Even if it’s small it will help you feel good.
• Be spontaneous, have fun and laugh! It helps to break the tension.
• When feeling spent/empty/burnt out, go for a walk. Nature is helpful and soothing.
• Nourishment is a necessity and not a luxury. Eat lots of whole foods.
• Escape from reality by going to a movie or for ice-cream with a friend.
• Try meditation to relax. Deep breathing is also helpful: it’s gentle, slow and regular, but avoid holding your breath.
• Practice gratitude (a la Oprah) by keeping a gratitude journal. It helps to be more aware of the good things and also to let go of the outcome.
• Guilt is unhealthy. Don’t “should” on yourself. Pat yourself on the back for what you can do.
• Socialization is really important but it has to be two-way – watching TV doesn’t count.
• Eileen read an article by Robert Doyal called “Why I love Parkinson’s”.
You can read it here.

If you have any questions about Eileen’s presentation or Comfort Keepers, she can be reached at 703-591-7117.

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