Being a caregiver is rewarding but it’s also a lot of stress and hard work on the caregiver themselves. You will need to avoid what is called caregiver burnout. When you are beginning as a caregiver for an amputee everyone’s emotions are going to be all over the place. One of the signs of caregiver burnout is getting easily aggravated over things that normally you wouldn’t get upset about. You have to remember to take care of yourself because ultimately you can’t help your loved one if you aren’t ok yourself.
One of the ways to avoid burnout is to follow what I call the 1 rule. The 1 rule is to take things to start with 10 minutes at a time and that way it’s not as stressful once you can handle 10 minutes then move to 1 hour and slowly move on to 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 6 months and 1 year. If your family and friends offer to help then let them because it will remove some of the pressure you are under.
Remember to also take some you time. I suggest 2-4 hours where you can step away and do something you enjoy. I don’t mean take your time away doing household chores or running errands. But fun and relaxing be it reading a book, walking, working out, watching a movie, playing a game, shopping, etc. By stepping away for some you time it will help with your stress levels and allow you to be patient, calm, and help with your mental well-being.
Remember you can’t pour from an empty pitcher and your you time will help to refill the pitcher. I also suggest that you find a support group be it in person or online. We have an amazing support group on facebook just for spouses and caregivers of amputees. Ultimately your loved one didn’t just wake up one morning and say I think I want to have my perfectly healthy limb amputated. So give your loved one some slack when needed.
Also try the 10 times rule which is have your loved one do something or go get something they want 9 times and the 10th time someone can get it for them. By doing the 10 time rule your loved one will start leaning towards being more independent and requiring less help with daily activities.
About Mary Hinton Armbrust:
Mary Hinton Armbrust, the widow of a bilateral amputee, knows first-hand the roles and expectations a caregiver of an amputee must play.