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January 2008: Can their problem be solved?

Agriculture.com Staff 01/11/2008 @ 11:00pm

Farming is a very hazardous profession, as I'm sure you already know. Recently, three farmers from our area were hospitalized and came home to their wives, who became primary caregivers 24-7.

Little did I know (my husband was one of the three) what my new profession was going to be.

As a retired nurse, I thought, "Sure, I can do this." I soon had my eyes opened. That's why I wrote a Caregivers Manual for farmwives.

Dr. Jonovic, could you share my top 10 coping tips with your readers? A sense of humor helps a lot.

B.D.'s manual is worth noting by more than just caregivers and those they're caring for.

With all the demands on our time and attention in this hectic, nonstop world, we can easily forget the value of community and the great power of offering a helping hand to those responsible for others' care.

Caring for disabled family members is, as B.D. notes, a 24-7 burden, and the negative effect on a caregiver's health is widely reported.

Those of us who are family and friends of these burdened caregivers have a place in this manual, too.

With that in mind, I've added a final point (#11) to B.D.'s list of 10.

  1. Don't try to be Superman. After all, Superman was making a movie and had a director. YOU are the director, and there is no movie.
  2. A spoonful of Splenda helps the medicine go down. Sweet talk works even better.
  3. Be firm with instructions. When you say it's time for your walk and he says, "Not now, it's time for the hog report," remind him that the hogs and frogs report will be on again in one hour.
  4. Give him a bell to ring when he needs you. If he rings it too much, take it away.
  5. If he says, "Not Hamburger Helper again," remind him of all the starving people in the world.
  6. If he says, "I'm not going to do those leg lifts again today," remind him of the friend who has offered her stun gun.
  7. When he runs over your toe for the third time while you are trying to maneuver his wheelchair through a tight spot, remind him that an amputated toe would put YOU out of commission.
  8. Crutches and canes are not to be used as weapons -- not even to scare the dog.
  9. If you want sympathy, you will find it in the dictionary. One thing that distinguishes us from animals is our ability to control our attitude. Look for joy.
  10. You don't have to do it all. Burnout can erupt into a blaze. Exhaustion takes over. Make time for yourself. After all, GOD rested on the seventh day, remember?
  11. Note to family and friends: You, too, are part of this equation. If you can just turn 24-7 into 23-6, you will be a math wizard by any caregiver's definition.

One key way to help (and long before a spouse becomes a caregiver) is to ensure a source of income should disability strike the primary breadwinner.

Farming is a very hazardous profession, as I'm sure you already know. Recently, three farmers from our area were hospitalized and came home to their wives, who became primary caregivers 24-7.

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