Caregiver Confessions: When You're in Over Your Head

Firsthand advice from a caregiver who's been there

Feeling overwhelmed by caregiving? You're not alone. It's common to feel over your head in terms of managing the stress, worries, new skills, and piles of details involved in caring for another person.

"If you tore a page from my diary when I was caring for my mother, who had Alzheimer's, it would be shocking," says TV-radio personality Leeza Gibbons, founder of the Leeza's Place communities for caregivers. In contrast to the calm confidence she felt about her work, caregiving's demands sent her into emotional cartwheels.

See Leeza's firsthand advice for coping with feeling overwhelmed.

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More tips:

Don't imagine everyone else is more together than you are. Gibbons says she thought everyone else was "Mother Teresa and Florence Nightingale -- and that was so not me." The reality: Every caregiver climbs a learning curve. And every caregiver who seems to be so on top of things has private moments of feeling like he or she is falling apart and is ill-equipped for the caregiver journey. It's all normal.

Break down big to-do lists into small, manageable chunks. Ask yourself, "What can I do in this hour, on this day?" You'll feel like you're accomplishing more if you can measure small successes.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Take the team approach. "Many hands make light work," goes the old saying. If you can spread the burdens of decision making, hands-on care, household maintenance, and so on, it's less on you. Figure out whom you trust and what their various skills are. Don't be shy about reaching out.

Aim for the B+. We can't all be A+ caregivers all the time, because we're not A+ human beings all the time. Reality happens. If you aim for the impossible, you'll always feel like you're coming up short. But if you aim to do a pretty darn good job, you'll be better able to meet that goal -- and even exceed it sometimes.

Try to solve big problems before they overstress you. Beware some of the biggest issues that sabotage family caregivers: lack of privacy, isolation, sleep deprivation, incontinence, and Alzheimer's-related wandering. Find out ways to be prepared for these tough issues so they don't catch you completely off guard.

See also:

When You're Feeling Guilt

When You Don't Feel Appreciated

When You're Sleeping Poorly

When You're in Over Your Head

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

When You Lose Your Temper

Family Is Being Torn Apart

When You're Just Not Eating Right

When You Rarely See Friends

When You Resent Being a Caregiver

When No One Will Help

Feeling Anticipatory Grief

After Caregiving Ends

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

about 6 years, said...

the videos are VERY helpful and a comfort to know that i am not the only one going through this

about 6 years, said...

The videos from Leeza Gibbons were GREAT!

about 6 years, said...

Breaking down the lists is very important. Having a plan of action for the day is also critical. I would tell my mother what we were going to accomplish that day so she felt like she was a part of the solution instead of feeling like she was "the problem." I researched all night for a year and a half only laying down for a few hours after feeding my mother breakfast. My faith in God kept me going. I asked Him to lead me to the information that would save my mother's life even though the doctors said it was impossible to survive emphysema. I knew everything is possible with God so ask Him for help. After more than 6500 hours of research I managed to completely reverse my mother's emphysema. God had led me to the information. I found researchers at medical schools, at Mayo Clinic and at the World Health Organization that had found solutions for other illnesses which I then applied to emphysema. At the end of 5, almost 6 years of emphysema and a year and a half of End Stage or close to it, and after more than 6500 hours of research, my mother was completely well. If you want the whole story you can visit my web site: The protocols I developed with the help of other physicians and researchers have now helped nearly 2000 people survive emphysema and COPD. Praise God!