Managing Caregiver Expectations: The Medical Team
The third of a three-part series on how to use journaling as a method to help manage expectations across different aspects of your caregiving experience.
Lori Ramos Cavallo
My previous articles in the Spring and Summer issues talked about how to use your journal to manage expectations for your loved one’s recovery and how to build a care team by managing expectations of family and friends. I explained how, as caregivers, we can add to our own pressures by having unrealistic expectations that contribute to burn-out and depression when unmet. Using a journal is an inexpensive way to clarify and manage those expectations.
These same techniques can be helpful when working with your loved one’s medical team. Survivors often have many doctors, therapists and health aides involved in recovery, and it can become difficult to manage team members’ roles and balance them with the needs of you and your loved one. List-making is a form of journaling that can be helpful for keeping things on target and being clear about your expectations.
Making a list seems simple enough, right? However, when using a list for this purpose, you do it in a specific way. First, make sure you have at least 15 minutes for the whole process. Next, decide who or what you want to focus on for this exercise and put them (or it) at the top of the page. Set a timer for 5 minutes and begin making your list of 50 items, numbering each line. It is okay to repeat — you don’t need to write complete questions or sentences, nor do they have to make sense. Just write and keep writing until the timer goes off.
Review your list and see if you can find a theme. Take the theme and write it on the left side of the page. On the right side, write “reality.” This process will help you define your expectations and clarify which team member to engage and how best to ask for help. Continue this process for 5 minutes.
When 5 minutes are up, you will have a better understanding of what you are expecting of the medical team member and how best to make a plan.
I hope that this series has given you some ideas on how to use journaling to make your experience as a caregiver less stressful and help you manage self-care. For more tips and ideas for using therapeutic writing, please visit: carepartnersresource.com or contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org