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Caretaker's mental health tips: Adverse reactions to negative world news

Negative news is especially troubling to older persons requiring crisis intervention
Negative news is especially troubling to older persons requiring crisis intervention
Image: Arvind Balaraman

Mental health professionals in Michigan are facing more and more crisis intervention cases. Events such as rising unemployment, higher taxes, budget cut for essential services and for seniors, veterans and disabled people, there is the government threat of more take from paychecks.

The health team at the Michigan State University in Lansing, addresses issues that affects caregivers and patients and ways to face adverse reactions. This is doubly important if the caregiver is also an elderly spouse.

Natural disasters, political strife, war, terrorism, children killing each other in schools or at home, foreclosures, and spouses murdering and abusing families are in the news every day. Seniors and disabled persons watch and absorb the traumas making personal conditions worse.

Caregivers are faced with helping clients alleviate reactions to negative news reports.

Professional caregivers have a responsibility to forget personal matters and intercede with stressed out dependent persons. This may be extremely difficult and sometimes the caregiver may have to face and deal effectively with unfounded, adverse remarks and accusations. At times the troubled client may gossip about the caregiver.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Caregivers must take a deep breath and deal with the situation in a polite and tactful manner. Taking the actions of a troubled person inside serves no purpose. Remember that the action by the client may be the result of causes, such as, stress over uncontrollable negative situations, medication, the disease, or low self esteem.

Choose words carefully, address problems with kindness, and give the client control over his own actions.

For instance, a caregiver overheard a client with low self-esteem complaining about the caregiver’s work over the phone to a friend. At first the caregiver felt the natural pain of hurt, because she was confident that her work was exactly as it should be. When the client got off the phone, the caregiver said in a kind but confident voice, “This is your home and you need to address me when you are dissatisfied and let me know what it is that you want me to do. Telling your friend doesn’t help.” The rest of the day went well.

Especially with Alzheimzer's patients, memory of what the person just did may be gone. If a person has been diagnosed or show symptoms of this kind of memory loss and does not remember their actions, it is best for the caregiver to forget it.

Caregiving is more than about physical health.

Mental health plays a foundation role in the well being of every organ in the body. Nerves connect to the organs from the brain. If a person is under stress, the whole body feels the effects.

Waking up in the morning with a heavy, pressured feeling in the chest, burning and aching in different parts of the body and an overall feeling of impending doom is described by many persons, both old and young.

“Forget the times of your distress, but never forget what they taught you.” Herbert Gasser.

Reactions to troubling times seem to be the most phenomenal when they happen, but for the elderly, the future is short and the present uneventful. The past is dominant. Looking back through time, a senior who lived through many war times and can tell many stories of survival may still suffer depression and worry about what is going to happen for the children and grandchildren.


Health team Michigan State University Patients caregivers issues role strain

Building Self Esteem A Self Help Guide pdf publications pdf The Impact of caring on caregivers mental health:a review of the literature Sally Savage and Susan Bailey


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