Post No47...The let’s pretend game - collaboration with Sylvia Stock.

Post No47...The let’s pretend game - collaboration with Sylvia Stock.
Photo by R.D. Smith / Unsplash


When you are caring for a loved one there will be many emotions that you will feel, so knowing how to manage these emotions whilst, at the same time, trying to make important decisions, can be very stressful for carers. Trying to think when your brain is all 'fogged up' from another long day requires a lot of mental strength, which is why this post looks at ways carers can try to handle a crisis, and how to avoid carer burnout.

This is the second post in a set of collaborative work alongside Sylvia Stock, The Dementia Whisperer, we hope you find it useful.

The Let’s Pretend Game - by Sylvia Stock

Did you ever play the game “Let’s Pretend” when you were growing up?

You created a reality and played it out, although it wasn’t really true.

In life when a crisis hits, we can easily get caught up in the game of “let’s pretend - a reality we desire” rather than find a way to deal with what the real situation is. It feels emotionally more stable if we ignore what is going on and hope that we can avoid dealing with what needs to be faced. It is hard, as a Carer, to watch situations unfolding that need facing head on with a decision to be made.

Even facing the need of applying for a mobility pass – blue badge in the UK – to ease parking challenges can seem like a major decision. Fear of change and adapting to new ways of managing care of a loved one can bring up many emotions that will affect the way one continues the caring journey.

Procrastination then kicks in as avoidance seems to be a good solution to what is facing you. You feel guilty, because if you make the decision that a change of direction is needed e.g 24/7 care when you desired to “do it all at home”. You need to consider respite care to prevent “carer burnout”.

Which way should I go?

In life it is common for folks to “pretend” that they are not really in debt as the bills pile up. Then one day it has to be faced as the debt collectors threaten court action. Suppose they had decided to seek help early on and put a plan in place. Facing their fear and shame and finding a solution that works with commitment.

Suppose there was a tool to help with the decision making that is being avoided?

Not just for carers but in general life crisis situations?

A tool that can be picked up at any time an emotionally charging decision needs to be made.

Change is this way...

Sylvia, through Dementia Whisperer, has a tool that works, based on Master Coaching principles –

So often one can get so caught up in despair that any sign of hope seems impossible.

Avoidance is not a solution for a crisis. There was a famous book written may years ago called “Face the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers

Don’t keep playing “let’s Pretend” when help is at hand.

Click for more info

Crisis Decision Support Tools from Dementia Whisperer

Available Online

Carer burnout – why does it happen? By Chris Roby

As Sylvia mentioned, carer burnout is not only very real, but it is also best avoided to prevent a family tipping towards a crisis. What is interesting here, and I have seen it many times, is that all focus can lie on the person who needs care, to such an extent that the carer can get a bit overlooked, stumbling wildly towards carer burnout.

This notion, along with a strong desire to keep loved ones at home, can lead carers towards a crisis, and if something happens to the carer (they become unwell or need to go to hospital) then it is always wise to have a plan in place that can be quickly actioned to prevent a further crisis from occurring.

If indeed care is needed at short notice, it is often easier if you already have a relationship with a local care home, domiciliary provider, or charity. Re-admitting a person into a care home for regular respite stays is comparatively easy than if they are brand new to the care home, and also easier for you, the family, as you are familiar with the home and know what to expect.

To get a great price on care consultancy, a new service being provided by Chris, please click here

Seeking help is one of the best ways to mitigate the risk of carer burnout. Help can come in many forms; care homes, domiciliary respite care, family support, local community centres, day centres or memory cafes are all ways of getting some much-needed rest. If you attend day centres or memory cafes, you have the added benefit of being able to bond with others in similar situations, signposting one another and generally being supportive.

Of course, asking for help is not always an easy thing to do. With some stigma still attached to dementia care, sometimes carers ‘shut the world out’ as they try to hide their loved ones changing care needs. Although understandable, this can easily lead to a situation of carer burnout and crisis, particularly if the wider family / friends are unaware of the true extent of the changing needs and have no plan in place for a crisis.

Carer burnout is often exacerbated by disturbed nights. Being a carer for a loved one doesn’t mean clocking off at 5pm or having a lie in on Sunday morning, it’s a 24/7 ‘job’ that is mentally and physically challenging. If the carer is also getting woken up at night, and is suffering from broken sleep patterns, the speed they will reach burnout will be much faster.


Carer burnout happens for a number of reasons. Carers may be resistant to a change, or promised their loved one they will always be cared for at home, or may want to shut out the world and just ‘get on with it,’ but in any given situation it is always a good idea to have a plan in case of emergency.

Realising that you need a break is a crucial step to asking for help, and although difficult, this should not be something to feel guilty about. Being rested means you can be the best version of yourself, meaning you are doing both yourself, and your loved one, a favour by taking a break.

The Care Whisperer says 'admitting you need help is a hard thing to do, but don't let it get in the way of taking a break and resting'

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