This series of seven short articles is written from my experience supporting caregivers who are inching towards burnout. Each article is designed to provide information to the entire family and care team including friends so everyone can be well versed in what can go wrong in order that they can create a care system that will go right!
Last week you read about emotional and mental buildup and over load in It Just Builds Up – Until this week you will be reading about learning to understand where the care giver is at emotionally and mentally by notice the state of the home.
- The Space Reflects the Primary Care Provider’s State of Being
Many caregivers, especially those in our immediate family, do not like to be a burden and will often respond to the question how are you doing with something like, “I’m fine.” Or “A little busy but okay.” Or “Good.” Because we want all those answers to be true so we can feel a sense of relief we tend to take the answers at face value. What I have learned to do over the years is listen to the verbal answer AND look for clues that confirm or deny the claim of fine, good, or okay.
Often the best non-verbal communication is right in front of us – the space or condition the home is in. When the caregiver is NOT okay the home willing likely look one of two ways;
Very messy and cluttered, mirroring the caregiver’s mental/emotional clutter, or excessively clean hiding the internal mess the caregiver is in. In either case it behooves us to ask about the mental and emotional well being of the caregiver by perhaps wondering out loud. Something like; “Gee I notice the house is really cluttered. I know how busy you are so this is not a criticism I am wondering though if you have a lot on your mind?” If the home is excessively clean you could say something lie; “Wow the house is spotless. I m wondering if all this cleaning is a way for you to distract yourself from how overwhelmed you might be feeling?”
If the home has that healthy lived in feeling and is neither, too messy or excessively clean your caregiver may be just fine. Either way it pays to compare how your caregiver says s/he feels with other indicators like body language and the state of the home.