Saturday, November 14, 2009

Caregiver Tip #1 - Know Your Personal Minimum Daily Requirements

Caring for someone with a chronic illness - like ESRD - can be exhausting. And everywhere, people give caregivers the lovingly-intended offer, "Let me know if I can do anything to help." I even had a physician offer to "step in" and do Steve's dialysis. How bizarre that sounded to us after the five week one-on-one training we received. Though we know the offer was extended in good faith, you don't just read an instruction sheet and wing it. There's much more to Home Dialysis than that!

So, where do we start when people gently advise us to "Take care of yourself?"

Few of us stop to consider exactly what it is we need. With my patients, I advise them to outline their "Minimum Daily Requirements." Just as with nutrition, we have "Minimum Daily Requirements" for:
  • Sleep
  • Comfort
  • Physical touch
  • Sex
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Giving to others
  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Sunlight/exposure to the outdoors
  • Chocolate
  • Time/contact with friends
  • Tending to the business of bill-paying, home maintenance
  • Idle time
  • Personal maintenance, i.e. haircuts, grooming
  • Creative time
  • TV
  • Keeping informed, i.e. newspaper, NPR, etc.
  • Films, music, art.
You get the idea.  Formulate your own categories. I noticed Sleep was the first category I listed. I believe that we can define what it is that we need. And who better? The closer we get to hitting our Personal MDRs each day, the better we can take care - of ourselves.

Try the exercise. You're far more likely to get what you need if you know what it is that you do need.
Take care. Linda Gromko, MD

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