There is a silent epidemic looming, not just in this country, but around the world. Family caregivers are under-appreciated, overworked and nearing exhaustion. The reasons they continue are as varied as you and I. For love, honor or family obligation, some even do it because no one else will. By the millions these are unsung heroes who do their part to help another. They add just a bit of dignity and light to an otherwise dismal existence.

They are not the only givers of care. There are the professionals, some who are well paid and others who barely scrape by. They all want and need the same things, each and every day of the year. What they need is what everybody needs, the feeling that we are respected. Respect as an individual, as well as respect for the work they do.

I have always been a caregiver of sorts. Today I tend to those who are caregivers. I was one for my parents, may they now rest in peace. When life became too difficult for them to take care of each other as they had done for so many years of marriage, I was called upon to step up. I lived one hour away, I had a career and I thought I had a life. Many of those issues paled in comparison to tend to the man and woman who gave me that life. I raced the clock, fought traffic as many aspects of my life went on hold, as I made certain that each in turn met doctors’ appointments. I would act as a chauffeur when my mom who did not drive, had errands to run and my dad who did, was in the hospital. They in fact at one point alternated hospital stays. It was bizarrely, darkly comical. Several years of my life revolved around them. My hopes and dreams were put on the ‘back-burner’. It seemed fitting as they sacrificed for me. Yet I did not always do my duty happily. I had long since forgotten the frustration, resentment and the feelings that part of my life was being wasted. I compartmentalized emotions so that I could be of service to them. Dependability and was always a phone call away. I thought that I had dealt with those emotions, long since hidden away.

How much, I realized, I had left in my past when a colleague asked me to create a product for caregivers—the spouses and children of Parkinson’s disease patients—Dr. Anette Nieves, a neurologist and movement disorder specialist who had previously invited me to speak at support groups, consisting of patients and caregivers. Applying various NLP® and DHE™ techniques, they seemed to respond in a noticeable manner, as Dr. Nieves noticed instantly. I agreed to take on this much needed project. I immediately realized she was right. When I looked into the eyes of the caregivers and memories came back.

What caregivers want is relief. Relief comes in many forms. Here are some of the more commonly suggested.
• Time off, or some down-time. Vacations will only work if they can also free their minds of worry and concern. The travel industry now incorporates special services for patients. By traveling with your charge, you have the same concerns from different locations
• Rest. Most energy expended is done with the pressure or concern for their charge. Generally the caregiver is at pseudo-rest. They close their eyes and sink into a bed or a chair, ever ready to bolt back into action.
• Relaxation. Just as rest, relaxation has little to do with the caregiver self. Some moments for them to think for themselves or to carry out their own chores are difficult when they are intermingled with the chores of their charge.

Ever in the forefront in the mind of a caregiver are the concerns and thoughts of the patient. Too often, their own thoughts, wants and needs are compartmentalized until sometime later. That ‘later’ may never come.

Caregiver Support networks are valuable when you are aligned with them. Unfortunately many are too busy or stressed to attend the meetings. Adding value would be knowing that as a caregiver, your feelings of irritation and frustration are far from unique. You may even learn some useful ways to diffuse feelings that you perceive as limiting.

Often after an outing, the caregiver returns to an emotional point as if they never left. The pressure builds almost immediately. In NLP® terms, this would be referred to as being anchored to an environment or a situation. This is specifically why many support groups, while helpful and packed with information, will only temporarily relieve the pressure. Little can be done about changing the interpersonal dynamics and the frustrations that surround those who give care with the frustrations of those who must receive care.

This is why it became my intention to develop a series of audios that bridge the missing gap that exists between the daily care and the support group interactions. Designed for the caregiver on the go, they are intentionally kept short to accommodate the caregiver’s hectic life. Because of the overwhelm I often experienced, juggling the care of my parents with my job and personal life, I realized how rare it can be to allow myself the time and the luxury of caring for me. This is an experience I shared with all caregivers. At the behest of Dr. Nieves, I designed my audios, The Caregiver’s Relief Kit© for easy listening and application for the purpose of taking you into a state of protected grace and energetic recharge, and to allow yourself to gain the rest that a caregiver requires. As a caregiver myself, I fully understand the value of being able to adjust my emotional state in order to modify the dynamic between myself and my charge for the better. With the application of NLP and DHE techniques built-in, I am pleased that I can now offer caregivers everywhere the ability to just listen, recharge and replenish all year round.
©2009 Jeffrey Schoener, Neuro-Enhancement Strategies, Inc.

Author's Bio: 

Jeff Schoener, owner of Neuro-Enhancement Strategies is a licensed NLP® Trainer and Personal Enhancement Consultant in New Jersey, using Whole-Brain Learning with Application NLP® techniques. He teaches these skills for relationships, personal growth and change for workshops, individuals, audio CD programs and books. He also currently features a stress-relief training program for caregivers, The Caregiver's Relief Kit(C).