Save the Wait for the DMV

Denise

Save the Wait for the DMV

Denise
lake-balaton-344812_640We have a tendency to apply waiting lines in our life. Rather than walking up to the open window, we stand behind an invisible red line of our creation.

We may wait to start a family until we have just the right house or the right amount in the bank.

We may wait to join a gym until we lose weight.

We may wait to change a job we hate until we have another set of skills or the seasons change (like from fall to winter).

We can put ourselves in line to wait for what seem like good reasons. The truth is that our self-imposed waiting game helps us avoid facing a fear. We fear we're not up to the responsibility of being parents so put off starting the family. We fear we may not look good enough so avoid the fitness center. We may fear the rejections that come with the job search so convince ourselves it's just not the right time.

During a caregiving experience, you may convince yourself it's okay to wait.

You may wait to get help believing it's not bad enough or hard enough or stressful enough. You may wait to learn about hospice services because, well, because. Who wants hospice?

You may fear how you look (incompetent, incapable) if you get help. You may fear your caree's disapproval if you get help. You may fear letting go (which means you are not completely in control) so you hold on too tight, leaving little room for help. You may fear using hospice believing that it's a form of giving up, that it means you aren't doing enough.

When we wait in life, we put our life on hold. When we wait during caregiving, we not only put our life on hold but set ourselves up for more and more stress. Without the right kind of help, we aren't capable of managing all that's required. Without enough help, we risk the well-being of ourselves and our carees. Without the right amount of help, we truly create chaos.

You may wait, believing it's not bad enough to have help. If you are helping, caring or worrying about a family member, it's always bad enough to get help. If you get help now, you understand how to work the help. You figure out the kind of help you need, who will help and who won't, what costs more than it should, what services are the best deal in town. When you get help early, you don't have to wait for help later. You don't have to wait to find services which lessen your stress, to understand how to approach your caree about using more help, to create a budget which represents the help you need.

And, when you have help early, you have help to manage those unexpected caregiving crises that you soon learn to expect.

The help could be joining a community support group which you only attend every few months. When you need more, you'll attend more. The help could be starting a blog (like on Caregiving.com) that you use to document the day. When bad days build, you'll have a release that's ready for you--your blog. Help could be hiring a home health aide that you use just once a month with the intention of adding more hours as your caree declines and care needs increase.

If you start adding help early, you can steadily increase the help in a way that's easier for you and your caree. Going from no help to a ton of help in a short time is hard on everyone. Because it's time consuming to find help, starting the search early means you'll have the time you need to find what truly helps.

A few years ago, I coached a client who regularly held off on getting more help. Every week during our coaching calls, she told me didn't need help. Each week as her mom's care needs increased, my client's will power waned, stress level increased and resentment built. Her kids suffered, her husband became frustrated and my client, interestingly enough, felt unsupported.

I consistently nudged (well, pushed) her to get more help. When she finally added more help (and more help than she thought she needed), she had more time for her children, her husband and her own interests.

Why wait to feel better? In the waiting line, you won't feel better; you'll only feel impatience, frustration and intolerance.

You also may be tempted to wait to learn about hospice services. I often hear, "The doctor hasn't recommended hospice so we must not be ready." Waiting for a doctor to recommend hospice often can lead to the waiting game that just doesn't end until it's the end. And, then it's too late.

Learning about hospice providers in your community sooner rather than later can be one of the best waits you avoid. Finding the right hospice provider is just like finding any other good provider, like a home health agency or a nursing home.

You know what it's like when you add a new provider to the mix. It's new policies, procedures, paperwork. It's getting used to strangers, becoming comfortable with a new schedule. If you begin to use hospice services as soon as your caree qualifies, you understand the service and how it works so when you really need the support and help from hospice, it's there.

My client who regularly resisted getting help cared for her mom in her home. When her mom began to talk about death, I suggested my client talk to the doctor about hospice services. The hospice organization determined her mom was ready and provided services for eight months until her mom's death. Because my client began to use hospice months before her mom's death, she knew which nurses she liked, which ones she didn't. Because she knew which nurses she liked, she could request help from that nurse when she needed help. She felt comfortable calling the hospice staff with questions and concerns because she knew the hospice staff.

Now, imagine adding a provider, like hospice, during your caree's last week. Imagine getting acquainted with the staff and services. Why add that kind of stress during your caree's last week? You want the last weeks to be as comfortable for both of you as possible. When you add hospice as soon as your caree qualifies, you know how to use hospice services so you are both supported during that very critical time--the end.

So, how do you know when it's time for hospice? Contact hospice organizations when you begin to see the continual declines and ask. The staff can tell you about the criteria they use to determine eligibility. If your caree is not ready for hospice, then you've just bought yourself time. (Read "Making the Most of End of Life.")

Most important, don't wait for your caree's doctor to tell it's time for hospice. You'll wait too long.

If you feel yourself waiting, do what you can to take action. Make a phone call, research options, ask for suggestions, try a service, talk out a worry with a friend, start journaling. Taking a step takes you out of fear. With each step, you'll feel more capable and confident.

During an experience like caregiving that reminds you regularly that we have finite time, don't wait. You don't have any time to waste.

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jan

Great post, great reminder.