Constant Caregiving Requests: How Can You Cope?
to do list next to cup of coffee

My husband is disabled and requires more assistance than some care receivers. More assistance means more requests. I’ve been his caregiver for two years and, as the months passed, realized I was being interrupted constantly. When I was doing laundry, or preparing food, or writing at the computer, he would call me. I stopped what I was doing and helped him.

All of his requests were justified. Still, I had to learn how to work with snippets of time. Since my husband couldn’t change his health care needs, I had to change and adapt. Although my solutions were simple, they have been helpful. Here are my tips for working with snippets of time.

Have a routine. A daily routine provides structure for you and your loved one. Keep in mind that you can modify your routine if it isn’t working. My husband’s daily routine begins with stretching exercises for his legs, a necessary task for health and wellness.

Plan together. Your loved one may have many time-saving ideas. Asking for input helps your loved one retain some control over a life that may seem out of control. Because my husband is a retired physician I always seek his input. We plan the day together.

Keep your promises. When my husband calls, I try to finish what I’m doing, something that isn’t always possible. I tell him, “I’ll be there in ____ minutes.” Sometimes it is two minutes, sometimes five, sometimes more. What’s important is that my husband knows I will keep my promise.

Make menus. I don’t have time to plan weekly menus, so I plan meals for three days. In fact, I’ve learned to speed shop for groceries. Often I start a recipe one day and finish it the next. For example, I cook pasta ahead of time, drizzle it with olive oil to prevent clumping, and refrigerate until needed.

Build “Me Time” into the day. I set aside a half hour for reading, or watching birds come to the backyard feeders, or emailing family members. These brief breaks re-charge me for hours. Without “Me Time” I would be a grumpy caregiver. My husband understands my need for this time and is respectful of it.

Practice Self-Care. When he was discharged from rehab, my husband was advised to join a health club and exercise on a special bike to strengthen his legs. I drive him there in our wheelchair van. While he is using the bike, I walk a mile on a treadmill behind him. In addition to being physically active, I get regular medical and dental check-ups.

Constant requests come with the caregiving territory. Frustrating as these requests may be, we can’t allow them to make us angry or impatient. We can learn to accomplish our tasks in snippets of time, try different methods, and work more efficiently. All of these things are possible. And remember, life itself is only a snippet of time.

Written by Harriet Hodgson
Rochester resident Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance writer for writing for 38 years, is the author of thousands of articles, and 36 books. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Minnesota Coalition for Death Education and Support. She is also a contributing writer for The Caregiver Space website, Open to Hope Foundation website, and The Grief Toolbox website. Harriet has appeared on more than 185 radio talk shows, including CBS Radio, and dozens of television stations, including CNN. A popular speaker, Harriet has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, caregiving, and bereavement conferences. Her work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors, and other directories. All of Harriet’s work comes from her life. She is now in her 19th year of caregiving and cares for her disabled husband, John. For more information about this busy author, grandmother, wife, and caregiver please visit www.harriethodgson.com

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10 Comments

  1. I hear you, but omg, my dad changes it all the time, forgets, and then starts it up again.

    Reply
  2. Linda not the same circumstances but possibly good advice to learn to start basic “me” time

    Reply
  3. These sound like some very helpful tips for both the caregiver and the person receiving the care.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for your comments David. We face many situations. A few months ago I had to call 911 because my husband was weak and confused. Firemen are the first responders, an ambulance the second. As one of the firemen left he noticed I wasn’t crying. “People are usually crying,” he said. I told him I’d been through a lot. He nodded his head.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for writing this.
    My elderly mother has always been demanding of constant attention. it’s gotten way more difficult now. She has a fairly sharp mind still at 97, and when I talk to her each night she asks me what I’ve done for her lately (on her tasks. ) it relieves her anxiety and she does not care that it increases my own. You know what Im talking about- ……How far I’ve gotten on completing claims for insurance. finance etc, bill paying, etc. She has a daily home health aide, but I still have to help run/plan and problem solve her life, not only support her living it, (in addition to being the stable support for many ; like my kids , husband, mentally ill sister and hold a stressful full time job that make more or less demands at various points in time) . There is anxiety, stridency, pressure on me to do what she wants and how she wants it. She wants to stay in control….and of course I don’t blame her. But it is just so draining for me. . I have to do things at the slow speed in which she can be involved to supervise. If she isnt’ involved in the finances she is fearful I did something wrong. If I don’t say I”ll put time into her tasks, she becomes even more hysterical and constant. . I have done the right things……. made habits (time to call, time weekly to see her) , I make boundaries in time,( I was lucky enough to go for vacation)……but the draw on my resources is constant each evening when I call her.. I dread the end of day phone call., and sometimes I miss it if I”m being diverted by something else. . Its depressing me to feel so squeezed constantly.
    I have to relearn how to breath better. Thanks for listening.

    Reply
  6. Flying by the seat of your pants sounds like a good idea in your situation.

    Reply
  7. Finding time for myself varys depending on how my husband feels each day. Always different, good/ bad days.Too difficult to make plans and keep them. I have gotten to the point where I just dont make plans. If he is having a good day, I make the best of it and try to take him out for a bit. Cant plan dinners in advance either, his tastes change day to day also. “Fly by the seat of my pants” is my method and always hope for the best.
    Kathy

    Reply
  8. Thanks David. Writing is how I care for myself and I’ve written a family caregiver series. WriteLife is publishing them. The first book came out on Sept. 7th, and the second will be released on Oct. 7th. My writing career is keeping me energized and sand.

    Reply
  9. Definitely been there and done that and then some. I hope you are finding enough time for you. I didn’t for awhile and nearly burned out by burning candles at both ends. Things are much improved in our household once I figured out how to reorganize my time. I like this article. Really spoke to me. Would have read twice as much and still would be not enough to touch all the situations we all face.
    David

    Reply

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