Guest Post by Mike Good, Together In This
Life has a way of sneaking up on us, consuming our personal time and energy to the point where the strain fractures our mental and physical well-being. We find ourselves so busy jumping through hoops for other people that we can’t give ourselves the care we so deserve. No matter what the cause of the strain, once you recognize it, you become empowered to do something about it.
Those caring for someone with dementia are typically unable to pause, reflect, and make changes because they are under constant pressure to perform. Unable to get their head above water, they are in a constant battle of survival.
Continuing to live with an excessive amount of burdens and stress (strain) will negatively impact not only your well-being but the well-being of those around you.
Assessing the Level of Strain
Although caregivers don’t need someone to tell them that they are living a strained (combination of stress and burden1) life, a method was needed to accurately measure the strain. In 1983, the Caregiver Strain Index was developed by B. Robinson. This assessment requires a response to 13 yes/no statements. Because many caregivers found yes/no to be limiting, the Modified Caregiver Strain Index was created in 2003 by Lisa L. Onega, PhD, RN, Radford University School of Nursing.2
This modified index includes a “sometimes” option and the statements have been reworded to aid in a more accurate assessment.3 Once the cause of a strain is identified, systems can be established to help alleviate the strain(s).
Why Use the Index?
As a caregiver, you might be thinking “I don’t need a questionnaire to tell me the cause of my strain.” But something magical happens when we put information on paper. Somehow, it transforms from a nebulous thought to a distinct issue that we can now see and take action upon.
Completing the questionnaire takes less than five minutes and will open up your mind to understanding the root cause of your caregiving strain. You will then be able to think about ways you can reduce or possibly eliminate these strains on your life.
Give It a Shot
So what’s keeping you from grabbing the Modified Caregiver Strain Index and getting on the path to better care partnership? When you’re done, don’t worry about your numerical score. Instead, pick the two top strains that you want to change and focus on these areas to come up with ways to reduce their impact on you.
Make sure you check back because over the next few months, we will be delineating each of the 13 strains and discussing strategies to reduce them.
What do you think about the Strain Index? Can it help? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We would love to hear what you think.
About the Author: Mike Good is founder of Together in This an online resource helping family members caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Through short, informative articles and easy-to-use tools, such as the Introductory Guide to Alzheimer’s, he helps them take control and have peace-of-mind they are doing the right things.