Taking Care of the Caregiver

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more than 65 million people in the United States provide unpaid care for a family member, friend or neighbor. Most of these caregivers work outside the home; 50 percent have full-time jobs. Many of these are raising families of their own.
This makes striking a balance among the multitude or responsibilities very challenging. Often, a caregiver will begin to neglect their own needs, which can lead to ill health, depression and a general lack of well-being. This, in turn, can cause feelings resentment, anxiety, and guilt, creating an environment of constant stress.
That’s why it’s critical that caregivers create their own Care Plan, and work to ensure that they continue eating well, exercising, socializing, and taking breaks when needed. People who take action to combat stress as opposed to ignoring it or falling into a feeling of helplessness are better able to deal with the added challenges in their lives. Here’s some tips to help make caregivers beat the stress of caregiving.
Establish boundaries
Make the person you’re caring for aware of times you’re available to provide assistance and stick to a pre-arranged schedule. If you have something that comes up that alters that schedule, let them know and help them find an alternate source of assistance, if possible.
Let others in your life know your situation
If you have children, explain to them what’s going on and that you may be less available for them and you still love them and want to know what’s going on in their lives. Talk to your boss – you may be able to arrange a work schedule that accommodates your caregiving duties. Let coworkers know you appreciate their support during this time.
Understand that all feeling are normal
Caregiving can be a roller coaster of emotions. You may feel sadness that your loved one is slipping away from you. You may have some anger or resentment towards the person you’re caring for. You may resent the time you spend with them because it’s taking time away from a career or family that you love. Acknowledge these feelings and understand they are completely normal and part of the role of being a caregiver.
Share your feelings with someone your trust
Find a friend you can confide in or see a therapist to help you sort out your emotions. Simply having an understanding ear can prove to be enormously healing. Support groups are also a wonderful way to connect with others who are likely experiencing many of the same emotions and challenges you are.
Ask family members for help
Don’t feel as if you’re the only one who can take care of your loved one. Other family members or friends are great people to lean on to take up some of the responsibilities. If they live far away, explain what’s going on and ask them if they would be willing to take a weekend or a week to help. Explain the toll that assuming sole responsibility for caregiving is having on you. If they aren’t able to provide support in person, ask for financial help for medications, food, or hiring outside help.
Seek out local assistance organizations
As America’s population is aging, numerous local resources are popping up to help take on the burden of caring for them. Local senior service providers, senior centers, churches and programs such as Meals on Wheels are all available to help you with the challenges you’re facing, often free of charge.
 Take care of yourself
Taking care of someone else requires a great deal of self-care. It’s all too easy to get caught up in your caregiving role, and letting other things slide – spending time with family and friends, exercising, or continuing your healthcare regimen. But being a good caregiver means taking care of yourself – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s important to continue doing those things that make life worth living – whether that’s taking your child to the park or catching up with and a friend over lunch.
Consider hiring professional help
An Aging Life Care professional can help provide some assistance in assessing your loved one’s needs and finding the resources for both them and for you in your role as caregiver.

Categories: Geriatric Care

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