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Time management tips: Visits

Posted Dec 12 2008 6:18pm

Time management tips: Visits

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A common problem (which I cover as a major topic) is the stress related to juggling too many responsibilities related to caring for others. These tasks are, of course piled on top of one’s normal, personal responsibilities. While there is always a compulsion to allow yourself to be manipulated by guilt, responsibility, or the urgings of the individual being cared for, it is extremely important to set boundaries for yourself to prevent you from getting burnt out…an all too common occurrence, especially for the lone caregiver.

One of my biggest failings when I first started caring for my Mother is that I would spend multiple hours visiting her. She liked the company and didn’t want me to leave so I would draw this out as long as I could. This often meant I would get home arounf 9 or 10 pm, not leaving me enough time to do chores, pay bills, or even eat a healthy meal without staying up late and affecting my sleeping patterns. This habit will (and did, in my case) snowball into more and more problems down the line.

I found the best way to combat this was to keep visits relatively short, about 30-45 minutes, with a definite deadline to leave, and sometimes with a specific agenda like bringing books or groceries. Once this pattern was established, it was easier for both me and my Mother. Granted, she still wanted me to stay, but I felt less rushed and tense which made it a more pleasant visit I think. Also, the shorter visits made it a little easier to throw in an extra short visit from time to time. It also seemed to help to keep the visits on a schedule so they fell on the same days most of the time. This seemed better for my Mom since instead of wondering when I would stop by, she could always look forward to my visits on particular days. Elderly people seem to be comforted by consistency and knowing when things are going to happen.

Also, make use of the phone. In lieu of a visit, or if you can’t make a visit, call the person on the phone (using the same time boundaries…or shorter) so they know you are thinking of them. If a person with physical disabilities starts to have trouble with the phone, this pattern may have to change. I’ll cover more on this in other postings.

A common problem (which I cover as a major topic) is the stress related to juggling too many responsibilities related to caring for others. These tasks are, of course piled on top of one’s normal, personal responsibilities. While there is always a compulsion to allow yourself to be manipulated by guilt, responsibility, or the urgings of the individual being cared for, it is extremely important to set boundaries for yourself to prevent you from getting burnt out…an all too common occurrence, especially for the lone caregiver.

One of my biggest failings when I first started caring for my Mother is that I would spend multiple hours visiting her. She liked the company and didn’t want me to leave so I would draw this out as long as I could. This often meant I would get home arounf 9 or 10 pm, not leaving me enough time to do chores, pay bills, or even eat a healthy meal without staying up late and affecting my sleeping patterns. This habit will (and did, in my case) snowball into more and more problems down the line.

I found the best way to combat this was to keep visits relatively short, about 30-45 minutes, with a definite deadline to leave, and sometimes with a specific agenda like bringing books or groceries. Once this pattern was established, it was easier for both me and my Mother. Granted, she still wanted me to stay, but I felt less rushed and tense which made it a more pleasant visit I think. Also, the shorter visits made it a little easier to throw in an extra short visit from time to time. It also seemed to help to keep the visits on a schedule so they fell on the same days most of the time. This seemed better for my Mom since instead of wondering when I would stop by, she could always look forward to my visits on particular days. Elderly people seem to be comforted by consistency and knowing when things are going to happen.

Also, make use of the phone. In lieu of a visit, or if you can’t make a visit, call the person on the phone (using the same time boundaries…or shorter) so they know you are thinking of them. If a person with physical disabilities starts to have trouble with the phone, this pattern may have to change. I’ll cover more on this in other postings.

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