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Caregiving Advice from a Critical Care Nurse

Paul Fockler, a critical care nurse, discusses the challenges that caregivers confront and offers advice on the importance of caregiver self-care.

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Hello, my name is Paul Fockler. I’m a critical care nurse that works in the ICU at Texas County Memorial Hospital in Houston, Missouri.

I think the key to comforting people as a nurse is being present and listening. More than feeling like you have to say all the right things, sometimes people just need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold. I also like to offer to pray for patients. This can be a real comfort because it turns their attention to the only real source of hope.

There are many caregivers out there and caregivers can feel overwhelmed and at times depressed, and the current pandemic has just complicated that role even more.

Caregiver role strain is an actual nursing diagnosis, but this diagnosis does not apply to the patient, it applies to the caregiver. Anyone that spends a lot of time taking care of a loved one is at risk. It can be taxing both mentally and physically.

My advice is don’t wait until you’re completely overwhelmed with caregiving to ask for help. You have to make it a priority to take care of yourself. If you don’t, it will wear you down. And we’re no good to anyone as caregivers if we become impaired because we’ve pushed ourself to the breaking point. Healthy caregivers make better caregivers. Home health or an adult day service may be options that can give you a break a few times a week.

As a caregiver, you also have to give yourself grace. There are just some things that are beyond our control. Success as a caregiver is being there, not being perfect.

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