Do you have someone with whom you can yammer away caregiver stress?
By Paula Spencer Scott
It was a classic case of miscommunication. My sister-in-law — a.k.a. the mother of all caregivers, with six school-age kids and, at one time, three live-in elders — was under strict orders to call me at any hour she felt the need, for any reason. Her mother was on home hospice when the text arrived: “Can you talk?”
Eager to help, I texted back, for speed’s sake, a simple “Y.”
And then…she didn’t call!
I waited awhile before texting back again, “Are you okay?”
Actually she was all right, had just been wanting to update me, until she got my message — and that had made her a little miffed and hurt. She’d mis-read my “Y” as the word “Why?” As in, I was asking her why she needed to talk to me right then, as if I were screening her level of need. (No, no, I quickly clarified. My “Y” meant “Yes!”)
Fortunately, our communication is normally much smoother. (For one thing, I’m much better at spoken or written words than texted ones!)
Every caregiver needs a talking buddy. Talking allows you to offload stresses, large or small. Research shows that the simple act of giving voice to a concern, peeve, or issue takes its impact on your mind and body down a few notches. When you talk to someone else, you feel less alone. Sharing thoughts and feelings leaves you better equipped to manage them. Talk may be cheap, but it’s also invaluable.
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