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Kathy Marshack News

Autism Caretakers – It’s Time Someone Took Care of YOU!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Autism Caretakers – It’s Time Someone Took Care of YOU!There is no way around it. If you live with someone on the Autism Spectrum, whether a child, or a spouse, or a parent, you are a caretaker. It is not easy! You deserve to know that we appreciate you and all that you’re doing. You are not alone in your struggles.

But not everyone is so understanding…

How many times have you been told to take care of yourself? As if you have time to actually get a pedicure, a massage, or just a nap, right? How many strings do you have to pull to actually make time for yourself?

It's one thing to put down your foot with an NT family member and demand some time for yourself. Not so with ASD loved ones. If you try the tough love approach with them, there’s no telling the damage they can wreak. They don't fully understand their connection to others, do they? It's always up to the Autism caretakers to clear the path.

Did you notice that I intentionally didn’t use the word "Caregivers" for this post? Why? I chose “Autism Caretakers” because the process of caring is not reciprocated by our Aspies much of the time. The word "Carers" is appropriate, of course, because it implies neutrality. But don't we often feel like caretakers?

It’s time we take care of you! If you’re a member of our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join us on the free teleconference on the topic of Caretakers Dilemma on Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 2:30 PM. We’ll talk about realistic ways to create self-care in an environment where your options are very limited. You can do it with the support of those who care.

If you prefer one-on-one counseling, live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for you.

Autism Caregivers – Are You Down and Depressed?

Monday, August 28, 2017


Autism Caregivers – Are You Down and Depressed? Living in a constant state of emotional distress can cause a variety of health concerns, not the least of which is depression. Sadly this describes a chronic state for many of our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD members. I think they’re a good sampling of families with Autism. This means that there are too many people dealing with this problem alone. Let’s change that!

Medicine and psychotherapy can help some, but what do you do when the stressors from caregiving someone with Autism never goes away?


One of the best methods of psychotherapy for depression in general is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which relies on helping you change your beliefs in order to alleviate the depression. It’s based on the idea that the depression is due to faulty thinking.

However, in the ASD setting we must factor in other experiences… ASD caregivers live in a depressing atmosphere, and they live with oppressive people.

I found that a more successful approach is a combination of education about ASD/NT relationships plus strategic intervention. This makes our Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup part of the solution. Knowing that you’re not alone; knowing that others understand from personal experience; knowing that you do not have faulty beliefs; knowing that you need new strategies; this is what helps us cope with depression.

We’re kicking off the fall with a discussion about strategies that effectively keep us sane and connected to others who are loving and supportive. The next videoconference entitled “Down and Depressed?” will be held on two dates: Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 9:00 AM PT and Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 3:00 PM PT. Maybe you’ll even discover that you aren't really depressed at all; just down. And that can be fixed!

Note: We had to modestly increase the price for our low-cost videoconferences. For $18.00 per person you get a solid hour of healthful interaction with me and 11 other supportive attendees.

If you’d prefer one-on-one counseling and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Who Is Taking Care of the Caregivers?

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


44 million Americans are caregivers of a special needs child or elderly relative or neighbor and they need our family and community support to keep going. Are you one of the 44 million Americans who is the caregiver of a special needs child or for an elderly relative or neighbor? We deeply appreciate the love you show and the hard work you do. We realize that often you’re doing this in addition to working secularly, caring for your own household and parenting your children. Thank you for all that you do!

Being a caregiver is a high stress job. Not only are you dealing with the decline of a loved one, the work is physically, emotionally and financially draining. Many times a caregiver is called upon to perform medical procedures for which they haven’t been sufficiently trained such as giving injections, changing catheters, etc. Plus caregivers work reduced hours or even quit their careers to care for their loved ones.

Recently the New York Times ran an article that helps us to get to know these caregivers better. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Nearly a quarter of caregivers are millennials.
  • Caregivers are equally likely to be male or female.
  • About one-third of caregivers also have a full-time job.
  • About one-quarter work part time.
  • A third provide more than 21 hours of care per week.
  • AARP estimates their unpaid value is $470 billion a year.
  • One in five report significant financial strain.
  • Family caregivers over 50 who leave the work force lose, on average, more than $300,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetimes.
  • Sixty percent of those caring for older family members have to reduce the number of work hours, take a leave of absence or make other career changes.

The demand for caregivers is increasing, while the available number of caregivers is decreasing. Because they’re not getting the support and help they need, caregivers often suffer from anxiety, depression and chronic disease. JAMA reports on a study that shows that caregiving shaves, on the average, four years off their lifespan. And surprisingly, the physical impact lasts long after the job is done. PNAS reports on a study that long-term caregivers’ immune systems are still disrupted three years after their job ends. The NEJM reports that caregivers of patients with long I.C.U. stays have high levels of depressive symptoms lasting for more than a year.

Legislation is trying to ease the burden for caregivers by passing the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. This has been signed into law by Oregon, but Washington State hasn’t adopted it yet.

The CARE Act requires hospitals to:
  • Record the name of the family caregiver on the medical record of the patient.
  • Inform the family caregivers when the patient is to be discharged.
  • Provide the family caregiver with education and instruction of the medical tasks he or she will need to perform for the patient at home.

If you are a caregiver, please take advantage of local support groups. Reach out to friends and family and schedule time off. Attend classes and talk with professionals about your demanding role. Become educated so you can perform your tasks well and with no risk of injuring yourself. Mental health professionals can help you learn techniques for managing your stress. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. I would love to help.

Available Online Resources:

The Eldercare Locator identifies community organizations that help with meals, transportation, home care, peer support and caregiving education.

The Local Area Agencies on Aging connects patients and caregivers to the services they need.




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