When I met Louise, she was tired. She had been caring for her husband, who has dementia, for a few years. But recently she had started feeling the strain of not having a partner that could help her make decisions anymore.
He used to take care of the bills and they would decide major purchases together. But now she had to navigate all of the decisions. When she tried asking him for his input, he would either seem baffled by her question or he would yell at her for wanting to make a purchase that in his current state of mind seemed irritating. She was beside herself with taking on these tasks and decisions on her own.
She had decision fatigue. Did you know that’s a thing?! It is! It can be an especially difficult one in caregiving…and in a pandemic too. There are even more decisions that bring uncertainty. And then if you add into that caring for someone that cannot help with the decisions or you don’t want to put the decision on them because of what they are going through. It can just make you feel like falling into a puddle and crying.
Having decision fatigue can cause you to:
~Feel exhausted mentally and emotionally
~Have difficulty making decisions, especially solid one
~Or not to know what to do at all
Here’s the good news. Despite the fact that decision making is a part of what has to be done, there is a lot that can be done to ease the fatigue.
Here’s what to do:
Take some of those decisions off the table.
What?! You might be thinking how is that even possible?!
#1 Put a daily or weekly decision on autopilot
By making up schedules, doing the same things again and again, or deciding to delegate you can put some of those decisions on autopilot to take pressure off of you.
Here are some examples:
~Make a meal plan for the month with at least some of the meals being on repeat every week or every other week. This will make shopping and preparation easier. OR get a meal service.
~Have a uniform, in a manner of speaking, wear similar or the same outfit everyday to minimize this decision. This can be for your loved too. Then put the clothes you don’t wear often in another location.
~Have a monthly calendar of household tasks
~Make a decision about what products to buy and then have them come as a subscription through a service like Amazon Subscribe and Save or Grove Collaborative
~Hire a service or ask a loved one to help with a specific task so that you do not have to think about it- (i.e. yard work, laundry, running errands…)
#2 Put off a decision for another time
There is a lot on your mind for now and the future. But there are some decisions that just need to be put on the back burner maybe just for today or for longer. When all of the questions pop up or a future decision comes up. Write it down and schedule when you will think about it again, giving yourself a deadline for when it needs to be made.
Don’t take on everything now. Prioritize what decisions you focus on now and which ones you will focus on at a later date.
*One more thing… It’s a hard reality but with dementia or other illnesses sometimes it gets to the point where your loved one cannot be a partner in making decisions with you either temporarily or for good. Stop asking them to. If you need to, find a surrogate decision maker that you can bounce ideas off of or just trust yourself and your knowledge of your loved one and make the best decision you can.
You are not alone. It is an intense time. Here some specific ways to take the pressure off caused by so many decisions. Let me know if I can further support you by meeting with you in a coaching session to work through solutions for the mental fatigue you are experiencing.