Tackling Procrastination to Avoid Dangerous Consequences When Caregiving

Vicky Pitner   -  

One of the worst enemies for caregivers is procrastination. It may be something as simple as delaying a trip to the grocery to get their loved one a favorite snack, thus, causing frustration and disappointment for your loved one.  However, busy schedules and overwhelming responsibilities of caregiving and putting off that call to the doctor, or delaying picking up medications on time can result in procrastinating around healthcare issues that may result in dire consequences.

  • Stay in tune to any changes in behaviors of the person you are providing care. Is she/he falling more, seem more confused, weak, or exhibiting urgency to urinate? You make a mental note to call the physician but time gets away and the call never happens. All of the symptoms above could indicate a very common urinary tract infection (UTI) and treated with medication. Without treatment, this infection can lead to sepsis, a potentially life threatening illness.
  • Dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, weakness, irritability and confusion can be a sign of dehydration. A UCLA study found that 40% of seniors may be under-hydrated and adults 65 and up have the highest hospital rates for dehydration. Drinking enough water can help to reduce urinary tract infections, reduce falls, decrease constipation, and help with the prevention of kidney stones. Encouraging your loved one to drink more can be a challenge (seniors are less sensitive to feeling thirsty) and it is easy to give up and avoid a conflict, however the consequence of dehydration can result in a hospitalization. Try adding a little sweetener to the water to entice them to drink.
  • Losing interest in activities, avoiding socialization, confusion, loss of concentration, change in appetite and change in sleep patterns (too much or difficulty sleeping) can all be signs of depression. It is easy to overlook these symptoms because they can be similar with someone with dementia, however, adults with dementia can still experience depression. Older people are more likely to be living with more than one chronic illness. People living with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, a brain injury and individuals that have had a stroke (CVA) can also be clinically depressed. Untreated depression can have serious and fatal consequences.
  • Many of us procrastinate and it can have detrimental effects on our own physical and mental health causing stress, anxiety, insomnia, and even financial repercussions if we delay in paying a bill. However, when caring for someone, procrastination pertaining to health issues can be life changing for everyone. Discovering why you procrastinate and developing strategies to stop “putting things off” will afford you the opportunity to accomplish more things, take risks, get yourself out of a rut, conquer fears and make an impact on other people’s lives.


For support in practical care giving strategies or information on our Memory Ministry, Memory Café, or our Virtual Support Group, please contact Vicky at vpitner@firstumc.org.