STEPHANIE’S TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS:
A stroke has a way of magnifying personality traits in the caregiver as well as the survivor. My need for control was pumped up, possibly because our lives felt like they were spinning out of control. I looked for ways to exercise control. One way was learning everything I could about stroke. Another was keeping lists and notes on everything the doctors, nurses and therapists said and did.
As Paul recovered, I couldn’t stop myself from needing more control, particularly over little details. If those details didn’t go as I had planned, if I wasn’t in control, I would get stressed out.
I usually drive because I am a control freak. Of course, I explain that if I drive, “Paul is more rested,” and so more able to fully engage with whomever or where-ever we’re going. The loss of control when the traffic slows down (which happens all the time where we live), makes me frustrated and angry, so maybe I should let Paul drive more.
Recently, Paul’s brother spent a week with us for the first time in many years. I wanted to be sure that Paul and his brother had time alone, without a control freak micro- managing the scene, so I planned to work most of the week. On Wednesday, Paul drove his brother to his Rotary Club without me. They spent the day together and had a great time.
I have met many caregivers who were or became control freaks, perhaps more compulsive than me. They would do everything for their survivor, make all the decisions, try to be in complete control. They wouldn’t let the survivor learn to get a snack for himself, or help with the household chores, because the survivor was too slow or “couldn’t do it right.” They were totally stressed by all the work, with no end in sight.
I have learned that the more independent I helped Paul become, the more time and independence I gained for myself. I know that loosening control and stepping back helped Paul to be more self-sufficient and self-assured, and helped me find perspective. And last week proved this in a very positive way.
*** Looking for even more inspiration & solutions for spouses and families? Read, “Conquering
Aphasia & Stroke for Caregivers,” the special E-book by Stephanie Mensh. Details and to order your
copy, anytime, anywhere: http://tinyurl.com/CaregiverE-Book