Posted by: Kelley Dees | September 15, 2011

When Injury Strikes: The challenge of care giving

The period immediately following a disabling injury or illness is a critical time of transition for a ranch or farm family and the operation. A disability brings enormous change to the entire family, often with little warning or time for preparation. It can be especially frustrating in a rural environment with lack of nearby medical or rehabilitation facilities, long travel times to obtain necessary medical supplies, and few supporting agencies or disability support groups.

Initially, much attention is given to the physical and emotional needs of the person with the disability; however, the caregiver may feel anger, guilt, or neglect. Dr. Deborah Reed of the University of Kentucky has studied the impact of a disabling agricultural injury and describes it as follows: Following their husbands’ permanently disabling injury, farm wives must adjust not only to the loss encountered directly by the injury, but also to increased responsibilities, time demands, and role reversals. They are called on immediately post-injury to simultaneously provide care-giving skills, make family adjustments, and oversee management of the operation. All the while, the wives feel they must remain positive to minimize their husbands’ depression. Increased time and responsibility demands, along with the suppression of feelings, places a heavy toll on the wives. As a result, they can become exhausted both physically and emotionally.

Caring for the Caregiver

Sandra Bailey, extension specialist at Montana State University and coordinator of the eXtension Family Caregiving website emphasizes caregivers need to recognize negative emotions and signs of burnout early so you can begin to deal with them. Recognition of the first warning signs may prevent a sense of being overwhelmed. Do you feel no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem to be enough? Do you feel trapped? Is communication negative, tense, or sarcastic? Has caring given way to exhaustion and resentment? The National Family Caregivers Association says that, somewhere along the line, it is vitally important to stop, take a breath, and gain some control over the situation rather than letting the situation control you.

In our next post, we’ll discuss ways to overcome the obstacles you may face as a caregiver.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from the Wyoming AgrAbility 2008 Newspaper Insert.

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