May 28th, 2010 at 1:11 am
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When a Caregiver Has to Leave Town

by Kathryn Kilpatrick, M.A. CCC/SLP

When an emergency arises that necessitates a person leaving town with little time to organize the details of their life, it can become quite a challenge. The situation you are responding to is already stressful, making it much harder to be able to function at your best while trying to pull together the numerous aspects of your life. I clearly remember when my mom was scheduled for some major surgery. I put some things in place so that I could drive to Massachusetts based on the schedule we were given but when I got the call that the surgery was moved to the next day at 7 AM, I had to quickly regroup on many levels. It was 2 in the afternoon and with at least a 10 hour drive ahead of me, I needed to be on the road in the next hour or so instead of the 2 days later. Trying to cancel my patients for the rest of the day was a priority along with getting home and packing the essentials.

Organizing the other details became a blur. Caregiver stress can be easily compounded when someone gets an unexpected call and that happens more often than not. I did not have time to pull all the other details together or contact friends who were going to check on things for me while I was away until the next day when she was in surgery.

We all know situations where things like this happen. We express concern but there are some very specific things we may be able to offer to do. Letting them know to call you as soon as they know they need to leave will allow them to shift to you some of the details they may not even be thinking about. Does the mail, newspaper or any other regular or special deliveries need to be canceled? Does the trash need to be taken out? Is there a need to have the lawn maintained, certain flowers that need to be watered or snow that may need to be removed in their absence? Seeing if they want to give you a key so you could check their house might be helpful, especially if they may be gone longer than expected. Having a list of their emergency numbers or others to contact is probably a good idea as well. When a person knows they have someone they can count on while they concentrate on the needs of a friend or family member, it is easier to give full attention to that situation.  Article with additional information: Does Stress And Overload Impact a Caregiver’s Memory?

A friend is a present you give to yourself. Robert Louis Stevenson

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