At an event for business owners, a friend of mine used the term “drive by advice” in describing how, when starting a business it seems like everyone (even those who have never owned a business) want to give us advice (mostly unsolicited).
The drive-by phenomenon isn’t unique to business owners. Having worked with family caregivers for over 20 years, many have shared their frustration over the plethora of advice they received from others. Receiving input from others who have experienced the challenges associated with caregiving can be helpful to reinforce that we are not alone as well as gain insights from those who have gone before us. However; though there are common threads we share with other caregivers, out experiences are unique because of how our situation occurs to us.
I want to share some cautionary tips when listening to those passing by
- Don’t get stalled – an excess of unsolicited advice can lead to overload. Take the advice that is the most helpful and politely thank the less helpful advice givers for sharing their story and move on.
- Avoid the accident– for some reason human nature causes people to share the worst possible experience they’ve had which can be unsettling for those just trying to manage their day-to-day lives without having a breakdown. If someone is unloading their trials and trauma on you there are a couple of tactics you can use
- Politely ask them to stop – explain that you are already overwhelmed and though you know they mean well, it’s causing you anxiety.
- Remove yourself from the conversation – excusing yourself to the bathroom can give you the out you need. Upon your return change the subject.
- Don’t take rides from strangers – as social media is a big part of our lives, it’s easy to post our caregiving frustrations online. This opens the door to spontaneous advice from “friends”. However; just because you knew someone in 6th grade doesn’t mean that they know or understand your specific situation.
- Carpool – ask for specific help from friends and family. In reality, many of them want to help they just don’t how. Give them clear requests for specific things you need help with (i.e. grocery shopping, picking up meds, staying with Mom/Dad so you can get out for a few hours)
- Take the shortcut – Utilizing a care manager can help you get the resources and services you need in an expedited fashion. Though utilizing these services will cost you money up front, it will save you time, money and stress in the long run.
Most importantly enjoy the ride. There is no doubt that caregiving is difficult, however; there are many rewards if we can slow down and be present to the moments we have with those we love.
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