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5 Ways to Answer “How Can I Help”

5 Ways to Answer “How Can I Help”


November 23, 2022 |  By Michelle Seitzer of Caregiving Advice

A message from IAES Blog staff:

In the US, Thanksgiving Day and week are upon us. And we have much to be thankful for. For those within the AE community, we cannot thank all those that care for us, in any capacity, enough! As we round out Caregiver Awareness month and head into a holiday season of joy, peace, and grace, may we all continue to be aware and be thankful for all we have been given. 

Michelle Seitzer founder of Caregiving Advice has graciously offered to let us share her article regarding ways to help those that care for us the most. We hope you find this as informative as we have!

She offers wonderful tips, and many ways caregivers can be cared for!!!

——-

Want to help a caregiver whose life is busy, busy, busy? Here’s how!

During this week’s Coffee Chat—our brand new virtual support group that takes place Mondays at 11ET on Instagram Live—we talked about what kind of help is actually helpful for caregivers, and why it’s so hard to get it.

We first posted this article in February 2020, right before the world shut down. How times have changed since then! But the advice we shared here? It hasn’t changed at all. Caregivers still need help. Caregivers still want help. But caregivers get a little triggered by kind offers from well-meaning people—and here’s the main reason why.

Because it feels like more work.

When caregivers hear these age-old phrases—“How can I help?” or “Let me know if I can do anything!”—our initial internal reaction is STRESS. Because the thought of coming up with helpful tasks feels like extra work, and extra work is something no caregiver wants. We want someone to lighten our load, not add to it!

Now don’t misunderstand: We are generally thankful for the offers. We appreciate that you see our need for help and want to provide it. But we need you to make it a little easier for us. And sometimes, we just need a little more time to think about it! As caregivers, we need to say that. “Thanks for your offer, can I get back to you with some ideas? And can you check in with me in a week if I forget?”

So caregivers, next time someone asks you *THE QUESTION,* refer to these 5 simple suggestions. And if you’re reading this as a person who wants to help a caregiver, thank you for your willingness; we hope you find these ideas helpful!

#1: Bring us a meal.

An oldie but a goodie: make us a meal! Or make a couple of meals for me to stack in my freezer, or send gift cards for GrubHub, UberEATS, or our favorite local pizzeria. Planning meals is often the last thing we want to squeeze into our busy day, which leads to lots of unhealthy dinners like frozen pizzas—or even worse, skipping meals altogether.

#2: Come visit us.

Screen Shot 2021 07 14 at 9.37.57 AM - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

Offer to sit with our caree for a few hours while I run errands. Don’t feel comfortable with that? Just stop by for a visit when I’m there (if we’re all up for visitors that day)! Caregiving can be extremely lonely, so it’s a huge help to see friendly faces and welcome visitors! It’s equally as refreshing to have someone take over so I can get a few items checked off my to-do list.

#3: Fill our (gas) tanks.

If you really want to do something of monetary value for us, a gas gift card is always appreciated! There’s a lot of driving involved in caregiving, and it adds up. And financial pressures add to our already heavy caregiving load.

#4: Bring us groceries (treats included).

Screen Shot 2021 07 14 at 9.35.30 AM - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

With online shopping now available in almost all areas—and with a variety of pick-up, drive-up or delivery options—this is an easy way to help that makes a HUGE difference!

Think of how much work it is to grocery shop…

It starts with planning: thinking about meals and snacks, then assessing what you need, taking note of what you’ve run out of, and jotting it down.

Then you have to figure out when to go, and depending on your caregiving situation, this can be a logistical challenge. Who can stay with your caree, if they need supervision? Or do you bring the person along, which comes with its own challenges? Some caregivers opt to shop at night when a spouse, partner, or child can stay home with the person you care for—but that often means shopping on tired legs and with a weary mind.

Now that you’ve figured out when to go, you have to drive there, go inside, fill your cart, empty your cart on the belt, load the bags in your cart, bring them out to your car, load them in your car, drive home, bring the bags into the house, then put the groceries away.

And then, of course, make a list of the things you forgot, because that inevitably happens, right?!

When you break down all the steps, you realize how much work is involved—and why it would be SUCH a help for someone to step in on this necessary life activity. (It also makes the case for paying the nominal delivery fee for those services, if you ask me!)

#5: Update others for us.

Offer to update others when something big happens. This one is a little tricky in terms of privacy, but it can still be super helpful.

The key word here is “offer.” Never give updates on my caregiving life without checking with me first. But if you know something big just happened (new diagnosis, a fall, change of living situation or school depending on age, a death or similar big loss/change in the family, etc.), ask me if I could help with letting others know.

Who are those “others?” Those are the people who would love to hear the latest on my caree but don’t necessarily need to hear it from me directly—i.e. my pastor, neighbors, boss/coworkers, friends I haven’t talked to in a while, to name a few.

It’s emotionally exhausting to repeat the same information — especially bad news — over and over again, so having someone offer to take on that task provides a huge sense of relief.

 

And there you have it! Five simple ways to help a caregiver whose life is busy, busy, busy. Pass this on to others who are looking for ways they can help, and let us know if you’d add anything to this list by commenting below. 

 

Click here or the image below to subscribe to our mailing list:

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

seal - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help" 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

Caregiver Honorable Mention

Caregiver Honorable Mention


November 8, 2022 | By Mari Davis

Introduction from the IAES Blog Team:

.For all Autoimmune Encephalitis warriors, it is our caregivers, friends, and loved ones we rely on every single day in our AE journey. We rely on these amazing people for everything from giving words of encouragement, to a ride to doctor’s appointments, to help us relearn how to walk and talk, and simply be there by our side. We are honored and proud to add another one of these amazing sentinels to our list of Honorable Caregivers.

 —–

I, Mari Davis, would love to nominate my husband, Geoff Davis.

Geoff has been my rock throughout the ups, downs and all the shenanigans called Autoimmune Encephalitis. I was at work when suddenly I had seizures. No warning, no nothing. I was admitted to the intensive care unit and was intubated. Geoff was there. He had no idea what was happening, but he never wavered and was there.  He had to call our college-age children and my parents to let them know that I was sick. I was sick, and he had to tell them he had no idea what was happening. He was at my side each night during my admission. He has been my cheerleader and a driving force in my efforts to become as functional as possible. In the last 5 years he has cried with me, laughed with me, and danced with me.

When it became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to return to a job I loved he cried with me. He has laughed with me while I’ve creatively tried to find elusive words. He has danced with me each morning before day rehab just to bring a smile to my face. Even when I know he was nervous about how I would do, he never let me know and he was there.

When I drove to Houston with our daughter and flew back on my own, I know he was scared, but he never let me know. Geoff simply offered support and was there. I know with Geoff, I can ask any question, no matter how crazy and he will answer it truthfully, even if the truth is difficult. He will be there. He has the patience of a saint. At times I have needed as much saintliness as possible. He had no idea how I would do long-term. He had no idea if the person I was before would be that person going forward. He was just glad I was here. And he was there.

I would also like to nominate his mother Rubye Neely for raising such a great man. Thank you, Rubye, for raising Geoff to be the person he is and the person that I know will always be there.

 

MariDavis - Caregiver Honorable Mention

 

Mari Davis, RN, ACM

Support Services Coordinator

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

Tabitha Orth 300x218 - Caregiver Honorable MentionOn June 16 th, 2022, Tabitha Orth, President and Founder of International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society officially became the 7,315 th “point of light”. Recognized for the volunteer work she and IAES has done to spark change and improve the world for those touched by Autoimmune Encephalitis. The award was founded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

guidestar platinum logo 300x300 1 e1605914935941 - Caregiver Honorable Mention

 

 Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Caregiver Honorable Mention

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - Caregiver Honorable Mention 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

5 Ways to Answer “How Can I Help”

5 Ways to Answer “How Can I Help”


November 10, 2021 |  By Michelle Seitzer of Caregiving Advice

A message from IAES Blog staff:

In the US, Thanksgiving Day and week are upon us. And we have much to be thankful for. For those within the AE community, we cannot thank all those that care for us, in any capacity, enough! As we round out Caregiver Awareness month and head into a holiday season of joy, peace, and grace, may we all continue to be aware and be thankful for all we have been given. 

Michelle Seitzer founder of Caregiving Advice has graciously offered to let us share her article regarding ways to help those that care for us the most. We hope you find this as informative as we have!

She offers wonderful tips, and many ways caregivers can be cared for!!!

——-

Want to help a caregiver whose life is busy, busy, busy? Here’s how!

During this week’s Coffee Chat—our brand new virtual support group that takes place Mondays at 11ET on Instagram Live—we talked about what kind of help is actually helpful for caregivers, and why it’s so hard to get it.

We first posted this article in February 2020, right before the world shut down. How times have changed since then! But the advice we shared here? It hasn’t changed at all. Caregivers still need help. Caregivers still want help. But caregivers get a little triggered by kind offers from well-meaning people—and here’s the main reason why.

Because it feels like more work.

When caregivers hear these age-old phrases—“How can I help?” or “Let me know if I can do anything!”—our initial internal reaction is STRESS. Because the thought of coming up with helpful tasks feels like extra work, and extra work is something no caregiver wants. We want someone to lighten our load, not add to it!

Now don’t misunderstand: We are generally thankful for the offers. We appreciate that you see our need for help and want to provide it. But we need you to make it a little easier for us. And sometimes, we just need a little more time to think about it! As caregivers, we need to say that. “Thanks for your offer, can I get back to you with some ideas? And can you check in with me in a week if I forget?”

So caregivers, next time someone asks you *THE QUESTION,* refer to these 5 simple suggestions. And if you’re reading this as a person who wants to help a caregiver, thank you for your willingness; we hope you find these ideas helpful!

#1: Bring us a meal.

An oldie but a goodie: make us a meal! Or make a couple of meals for me to stack in my freezer, or send gift cards for GrubHub, UberEATS, or our favorite local pizzeria. Planning meals is often the last thing we want to squeeze into our busy day, which leads to lots of unhealthy dinners like frozen pizzas—or even worse, skipping meals altogether.

#2: Come visit us.

Screen Shot 2021 07 14 at 9.37.57 AM - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

Offer to sit with our caree for a few hours while I run errands. Don’t feel comfortable with that? Just stop by for a visit when I’m there (if we’re all up for visitors that day)! Caregiving can be extremely lonely, so it’s a huge help to see friendly faces and welcome visitors! It’s equally as refreshing to have someone take over so I can get a few items checked off my to-do list.

#3: Fill our (gas) tanks.

If you really want to do something of monetary value for us, a gas gift card is always appreciated! There’s a lot of driving involved in caregiving, and it adds up. And financial pressures add to our already heavy caregiving load.

#4: Bring us groceries (treats included).

Screen Shot 2021 07 14 at 9.35.30 AM - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

With online shopping now available in almost all areas—and with a variety of pick-up, drive-up or delivery options—this is an easy way to help that makes a HUGE difference!

Think of how much work it is to grocery shop…

It starts with planning: thinking about meals and snacks, then assessing what you need, taking note of what you’ve run out of, and jotting it down.

Then you have to figure out when to go, and depending on your caregiving situation, this can be a logistical challenge. Who can stay with your caree, if they need supervision? Or do you bring the person along, which comes with its own challenges? Some caregivers opt to shop at night when a spouse, partner, or child can stay home with the person you care for—but that often means shopping on tired legs and with a weary mind.

Now that you’ve figured out when to go, you have to drive there, go inside, fill your cart, empty your cart on the belt, load the bags in your cart, bring them out to your car, load them in your car, drive home, bring the bags into the house, then put the groceries away.

And then, of course, make a list of the things you forgot, because that inevitably happens, right?!

When you break down all the steps, you realize how much work is involved—and why it would be SUCH a help for someone to step in on this necessary life activity. (It also makes the case for paying the nominal delivery fee for those services, if you ask me!)

#5: Update others for us.

Offer to update others when something big happens. This one is a little tricky in terms of privacy, but it can still be super helpful.

The key word here is “offer.” Never give updates on my caregiving life without checking with me first. But if you know something big just happened (new diagnosis, a fall, change of living situation or school depending on age, a death or similar big loss/change in the family, etc.), ask me if I could help with letting others know.

Who are those “others?” Those are the people who would love to hear the latest on my caree but don’t necessarily need to hear it from me directly—i.e. my pastor, neighbors, boss/coworkers, friends I haven’t talked to in a while, to name a few.

It’s emotionally exhausting to repeat the same information — especially bad news — over and over again, so having someone offer to take on that task provides a huge sense of relief.

 

And there you have it! Five simple ways to help a caregiver whose life is busy, busy, busy. Pass this on to others who are looking for ways they can help, and let us know if you’d add anything to this list by commenting below. 

 

Click here or the image below to subscribe to our mailing list:

subscribe - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

seal - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help"

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - 5 Ways to Answer "How Can I Help" 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

Caregiver’s guide to self care & avoiding caregiver burnout

Caregiver’s guide to self care & avoiding caregiver burnout


November 10, 2021 |  By the SingleCare Team; medically reviewed by Gerardo Sison, Pharm.D.

November is Caregiver Awareness month! The staff and members of IAES celebrate, love, depend on and, at times, could not get by without those that have cared for us! To say we appreciate you is an understatement. So, this month we celebrate ALL of you wholeheartedly!

Thank you all!

We are honored to share with you a wonderful article by The SingleCare Team and thank them for allowing us this opportunity!

——-

Learn risk factors, signs of burnout, and how to reduce the danger of caregiver burnout

A caregiver is anyone who assumes a significant level of responsibility for another person. This could be a family member, friend, or home healthcare worker. Caregivers demonstrate selflessness, commitment, and duty every day. But they also take on emotional and physical burdens that can become overwhelming.

What is caregiver burnout?

Caregiver burnout is a state of total exhaustion brought about by the emotional, physical, and mental toll of assuming responsibility for another person’s needs.

How does caregiver burnout start?

In most cases, caregiver burnout begins with emotional exhaustion. The stress and burden of providing for someone’s critical needs can exhaust a person’s ability to cope. Emotions like anger, sadness, and fear can be harder to control than usual.

caregiver burnout 440x500 - Caregiver’s guide to self care & avoiding caregiver burnout

Physical exhaustion often follows. Caregiving often requires new physical demands and usually leads to a reduction in other physical activities like exercise. One person may feel lethargic because they no longer go on their morning walk. Another person may have sore muscles because they have to bathe and clothe someone else, or sleep somewhere unfamiliar.

The combination of emotional and physical exhaustion can lead to mental exhaustion. A caregiver may begin making simple mistakes like forgetting appointments or leaving a key ingredient out of a favorite recipe. Restful sleep may be difficult, and a caregiver may lack motivation for social interaction. This is when exhaustion has reached the burnout stage.

If caregiver burnout is not addressed, it can lead to caregiver depression—a dangerous situation for the caregiver and the person to whom they are giving care. Depression is often characterized by feelings of worthlessness, sadness, or irritation, which can sometimes lead to chronic negative thoughts of hurting themselves or others.

If you or a loved one is experiencing severe depression or suicidal thoughts and behaviors, seek help from a healthcare provider or emergency room immediately. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

Why is caregiving so exhausting?

Caregiving is exhausting because of the time and energy it requires. When someone you love can’t entirely fend for themselves, you want to help them. But when you are preparing meals, sorting out their financial situation, or helping them use the bathroom, you are using up energy and hours normally devoted to your own well-being.

In the end, the exhaustion often comes from losing the ability to do things that you enjoy and that make you, you.

What are the risk factors of caregiver burnout?

Not all caregivers get caregiver burnout. But among those that do, researchers have identified certain risk factors that seem to make caregivers more likely to suffer from burnout. Not everyone who has these risk factors will experience burnout, and people who don’t have any of these factors may experience burnout anyway.

Still, it is worth reviewing these risk factors and being aware of any that apply to you.

  • Physically demanding tasks (i.e., lifting someone out of a bathtub)
  • Taking care of someone that has severe behavior problems (i.e., dementia), not only physical ones
  • Financial difficulties
  • Living with the person you’re caring for
  • Lacking friends or a support network
  • A high percentage of time or long duration spent as a caretaker
  • History of substance abuse

What are the signs of caregiver burnout?

Certain signs may indicate total exhaustion or caregiver burnout. If you are a caregiver or know someone who is a caregiver, look for the following signs.

warning signs burnoiut 436x500 - Caregiver’s guide to self care & avoiding caregiver burnout

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling constantly worried
  • Not getting enough sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Feeling angry at the person you’re caring for
  • Feeling easily irritated
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Having frequent body pains, such as headaches
  • Increasing the use of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications
  • Getting sick more often

Caregivers experiencing any of these symptoms should speak to their doctor.

Measuring caregiver stress and burnout

The Zarit Burden Interview is the most widely used diagnostic tool for identifying caregiver burden.

To determine whether you are experiencing excessive caregiver stress, consider taking this Caregiver Health Self Assessment Questionnaire that was developed by the American Medical Association.

How to avoid caregiver burnout

You now have an understanding of what caregiver burnout is, how to recognize it, and who is most likely to get it. Here are 12 proven methods of avoiding burnout.

1. Make sure you get breaks for yourself

There’s no “pause button” for caretaking. Every caregiver may have felt the urge to simply walk away, but they understand that doing so could be catastrophic for the person who is relying on them. You don’t want to let it get to that point.

That’s why implementing breaks into your daily routine is so important. Short breaks can have a hugely positive impact on your mental outlook.

In some cases, the person you are taking care of can manage on their own for a few hours, so you can get away. Others may at least be able to entertain themselves safely while you are in another room.

If you are helping someone who needs constant supervision, you’ll have to be proactive about scheduling breaks. This could mean drafting a neighbor, friend, or family member to help periodically. Or it could mean hiring a home healthcare worker to stop in a few days per week.

We’ve already learned that a high percentage of time spent as a caregiver is a risk factor for burnout. Do everything you can to ensure you have time to yourself to relax and recharge. It’s the best thing for you and for the person you’re caring for.

2. Use tools that make sharing updates simpler

A primary caregiver isn’t only a healthcare worker, they’re a reporter, too. Close family and friends will expect updates on topics like symptoms, prognosis, how their medication is working, what the person is eating, and more.

Individual calls or emails are nice, but time-consuming. When a caregiver isn’t able to provide updates as often as they’d like, they can feel guilty about it which adds to their burden.

Tools like CaringBridge, PostHope, or MyLifeLine make communication easier. These sites let you post updates simultaneously—with controls to protect your loved one’s privacy.

A single update shared with everyone also reduces the risk of miscommunication. Everyone will have the same information, so they don’t feel left out.

3. Use online resources

Every caregiver should have a device with internet access. Critical advice and important resources can often be just a few clicks away.

One of many examples is Eldercare Locator. This free resource site, produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has a clean, readable design and trustworthy links. In just a few clicks, you can connect with insurance, transportation, and home care resources.

Many other online resources for caregivers are worth consulting, such as online support groups and local home health organizations.

4. Join a support group

Participating in a support group is one of the best ways that a caregiver can use their limited free time. Caregiving can be isolating and frustrating. On the most basic level, a support group reminds caregivers that there are others facing the same challenges.

But on a deeper level, a support group can help provide guidance that’s based on experience. And a caregiver can feel the satisfaction and catharsis of helping others by sharing their successes and failures with other like-minded individuals.

Bonding over these shared experiences often leads to friendship. As supportive as family and friends can be, they can only sympathize with what you’re going through. A fellow caregiver can share the burden and support you, like a coworker or teammate.

5. Take a self-assessment test regularly

Caregiver burnout doesn’t happen all at once. Emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion accumulates over time.

You stand a better chance of avoiding burnout if you track benchmarks in your mental health. Taking a self-assessment test regularly (say, once a month) will give you a clearer view of how well you are coping.

Self-assessments ask basic questions about your feelings and your physical health. They shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes. We recommend the Caregiver Health Self Assessment Questionnaire, which was developed by the American Medical Association.

This small-time investment could save you the consequences of burnout.

6. Maintain positive relationships with other friends and family

When a loved one is going through a health crisis, everyone wants to help. Sometimes the best help is the simplest: Reaching out to a friend or family member.

Caregivers need a sense of normalcy that can often be obtained by going on a walk with a former coworker, having brunch with old friends, or enjoying a night at the bowling alley.

Friends and family may feel that they have to do extra, or they may feel hesitant about trying to contact you. Try to maintain a schedule with friends and family members, either by having a phone call every few months or arranging lunch meetups once a week.

7. Set boundaries

One of the biggest changes when you become a caregiver is making decisions for someone else. And the people who also love that person may not always agree with the decisions you make.

You can’t make everyone happy, and being second guessed adds to your burden. Family and friends who want to provide help may do so in a way that interrupts your routine.

So set clear boundaries about things like who should attend doctor visits, when people should visit, and the types of assistance you actually need.

8. Set health goals for yourself, including mental health

The emotional burden of caregiving can cause you to neglect your physical and mental health.

Positive behaviors like exercise and meditation become important when you are under emotional strain. They are an effective way to calm your racing thoughts.

Give yourself achievable goals for activities like these. Phone apps can help by providing daily reminders and preset programs that last 10 to 30 minutes.

9. Set realistic goals for your caregiving and ask for help when you need it

Too many caregiving situations start in crisis mode and stay there. That’s a sure path to caregiver burnout.

Early on, work with your doctor to identify a realistic level of caretaking. Think about your loved one’s current and future needs and whether you will be able to provide them.

For example, someone with a progressive, debilitating disease may be able to function normally now, but what happens when they need help getting in and out of the bathtub?

What types of care are you comfortable giving? Could you give shots, or monitor IV drips? What about driving to pick up medications or necessities like groceries with them in the car?

Think about what will go into caretaking in your unique situation, and set realistic goals for what you can do.

Overextending yourself can lead to burnout (or a dangerous situation) for the person you’re caring for.

10. Talk to a professional, including a therapist or social worker

Becoming a caregiver is a time of stress and even shock. These are times when talk therapy can be extremely comforting and critical to our ability to cope.

Family and friends can be a sounding board, but they also have a close relationship with the person you’re caring for. That makes it hard to honestly discuss feelings of shame, guilt, or anger—feelings that are common and valid.

Speaking to a third party gives you the freedom to express yourself, put certain feelings out into the open, and work on strategies for coping with them.

11. Be realistic about your loved one’s disease

Another reason to seek advice from a third party is to be able to honestly discuss your loved one’s path to recovery—or their lack of one.

For dementia patients, sadly, there is no cure. And doctors can’t say for sure how fast the disease will take hold.

Acceptance can be the hardest part of dealing with certain diseases. We want to believe our loved ones will beat the odds. Thinking realistically about what the future holds can help us balance our hopes with the practical requirements of home care.

12. Develop coping strategies that work for you

Every caregiving situation is different and so is every caregiver.

Some people may decide to take time for solitary walks before deciding that what they really want is to join a support group.

Coping on a daily basis can be a real challenge. Try to identify the stressful parts of your day and how you could alleviate that stress. Maybe you’d benefit from getting housekeeping help or a meal delivery service. It doesn’t have to be forever, but keeping your head above water for the health of you and the person you’re caring for has to be the top priority.

Self-care is part of caregiving

Caregiving can be a shock to the system. Our instinct is to help our loved one, no matter the cost to ourselves. But as the days, weeks, and months go by, we run out of energy.

The most important thing for caregivers to remember is this: Successful caregiving includes caring for yourself.

 

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Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

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Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - Caregiver’s guide to self care & avoiding caregiver burnout

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - Caregiver’s guide to self care & avoiding caregiver burnout 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

A Day of Living with Autoimmune Encephalitis

A Day of Living with Autoimmune Encephalitis

Bettina Goodwin Tony on a bad day Aug 2020 - A Day of Living with Autoimmune EncephalitisNovember 7, 2020 | By Bettina Goodwin, caregiver to her husband Tony

It’s morning and you open your eyes, groaning.

“How do you feel?” you’re asked, as you struggle to find the words to explain the fogginess and confusion — the sheer lack of comfort you feel in your body at that moment — but you move forward, ready to face another day.

It’s breakfast time so you eat what’s given to you, or you try your best to get down at least half, wishing you could taste it. That’s followed by a handful of pills that you swallow, hoping they control the multitude of symptoms that often overwhelm you. If the pills encounter a “bad day” you’re now accustomed to going back to bed, donning your headphones and sleeping, blocking out the world 

Today, though, is a good day. You arise and, once more, attempt to solve what you consider a “wretched” therapeutic crossword puzzle, slightly convinced someone must be laughing at you somewhere, because you’ve never used or heard of these words before in your long life. “Who’s ever heard of…?” You solve the challenge by looking up the answers using your cellphone. 

You’re stunned that a half-hour on this crossword exercise can leave you so utterly exhausted. Then you watch a TV show that is now unfollowable, despite that you’ve seen it so often before. But you laugh about this, and make a joke that hiding Easter Eggs this year will be easy. 

Then, you flick to another channel and watch it through closing lids. Tiredness envelopes you, your brain is foggy and fluctuating blood pressure now rising, so you could rip off someone’s head if they looked at you sideways. Dozing on the couch will help you recoup your good humor. While nodding off, you wish you could contribute to the household — even simple tasks would be good — but that might have to wait till tomorrow, as today you are far too fatigued. 

Life has slowed down, narrowed into symptoms and medical appointments, blood tests and infusions, which are neither remembered nor enjoyed. You’ve learned that this condition is a marathon rather than a sprint, with each day representing a journey toward health. 

Some days with autoimmune encephalitis are dismal and you hold on to the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day and you’ll be one step closer to the goal of beating this. Communicating with family and friends helps you feel a part of the world once more. You learn to accept celebrating a good morning, afternoon or day, and finding pleasure in these snatched moments when stars align and the fog lifts. 

Kindness is what keeps you going. The kindness of others, especially caregivers who respect your need to take things slowly and calmly. Family, friends and random strangers, who share a moment or assist you, smiling in acknowledgement.  

Kindness to yourself, allowing time to rest when your brain is tired, taking a step back from the daily hurley burley and focusing on something that calms you and allows a peaceful space. 

And laughter. Laughing at the hundredth time your coffee has been taken by martians, or the stairs moved while you were trying to best to climb them. Giving yourself permission to find your trials just a little funny, while allowing humor and kindness to assist your repair. 

You know that AE has its own timetable, but your life is more than this condition. It is the joy you find throughout the day and the loved ones you allow to be part of your journey.

Bettina Goodwin Tony in France Sept 2019 1 500x281 - A Day of Living with Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

In light of National Family Caregivers Month (November), we’re spreading the word on the Rare Caregiver Respite Program offered by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). Read more here.

NORD 237x300 - A Day of Living with Autoimmune EncephalitisThis first-of-its-kind assistance program is designed for caregivers (parent, spouse, family member, or signicant other) of a child or adult diagnosed with a rare disorder. NORD understands that caring for a loved one is a generous gift that demands signicant amounts of time, attention, patience and dedication.

The Respite Program provides financial assistance to enable the caregiver a break to attend a conference, event or simply have an afternoon or evening away from caregiving. Financial assistance will be granted up to $500 annually for those who qualify. Awards may be spread throughout the year or in a single use.

Your generous Donations allow IAES to continue our important work and save lives! 

seal - A Day of Living with Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

Become an Advocate by sharing your story. It may result in accurate diagnosis for someone suffering right now who is yet to be correctly identified. Submit your story with two photos to IAES@autoimmune-encephalitis.org

 

 

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society (IAES), home of the AEWarrior®, is the only Family/Patient-centered organization that assists members from getting a diagnosis through to recovery and the many challenges experienced in their journey. Your donations are greatly appreciated and are the direct result of IAES’ ability to develop the first product in the world to address the needs of patients, Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards. Every dollar raised allows us to raise awareness and personally help Patients, Families, and Caregivers through their Journey with AE to ensure that the best outcomes can be reached. Your contribution to our mission will help save lives and improve the quality of life for those impacted by AE. 

Trivia Playing cards 3 FB 500x419 - A Day of Living with Autoimmune Encephalitis

For those interested in face masks, clothing, mugs, and other merchandise, check out our AE Warrior Store!  This online shop was born out of the desire for the AE patient to express their personal pride in fighting such a traumatic disease and the natural desire to spread awareness. Join our AE family and help us continue our mission to support patients, families and caregivers while they walk this difficult journey.  

AE Warrior Store 300x200 - A Day of Living with Autoimmune Encephalitis 

Be a part of the solution by supporting IAES with a donation today.

 

why zebra - Aphasia as a Symptom of Autoimmune Encephalitis

 

 

Our website is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice. Nothing contained on our website is intended to be used as medical advice. No content is intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice. Although THE INTERNATIONAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS SOCIETY  provides a great deal of information about AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS, all content is provided for informational purposes only. The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society  cannot provide medical advice.


International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2016 by Tabitha Andrews Orth, Gene Desotell and Anji Hogan-Fesler. Tax ID# 81-3752344. Donations raised directly supports research, patients, families and caregivers impacted by autoimmune encephalitis and to educating healthcare communities around the world. Financial statement will be made available upon request.

CONTACT US


352-527-2470

IAES@AUTOIMMUNE-ENCEPHALITIS.ORG

Autoimmune Encephalitis Trivia Playing Cards

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