As a caregiver to the sick or aging, what do I need to know to get through this challenging time? Caring for a loved one is one of the most selfless and rewarding jobs you can ever do. However, tending to someone else’s needs minute to minute can wear on even the strongest of people. It’s natural to become frustrated, stressed, exhausted and isolated when you’re unable to leave home or do things you used to enjoy. That’s why it’s important to find time for yourself too. If you’re not in good shape, then you won’t be able to properly care for anyone else.
What Should I Know as a Caregiver to the Sick or Aging?
Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may feel like you don’t want to bother anyone, but there are many people who want to help. You just have to tell them how, even if it’s just needing someone to run an errand, make a meal, or sit with your loved one for an hour while you go get exercise.
Go easy on yourself: There’s no such thing as the perfect caregiver. You’re going to make mistakes. As long as you’re doing your best, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty when you have a bad day. Caregiveraction.org states that about 40 to 70 percent of family caregivers show signs of depression, so it’s important that you find time for positive self-reflection. As a caregiver to the sick, treat yourself with compassion and remember that your health matters too.
Find resources that will help. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, nearly 60 percent of caregivers work outside the home. This poses many challenges especially when it comes to having enough time to get everything done. But there are tons of caregiving programs and services you can tap into. One resource you may want to find sooner than later is a support group that can offer you empathy, encouragement, and problem-solving strategies from other caregivers.
Stay Connected to Friends and Family. Work family time into your schedule, even if it’s just a regular phone call to a family member or friend who is a good listener or one who puts you at ease.
Make time to take care for your own health. When you’re focused on making your loved one feel better, this doesn’t mean you should forget about your own health. Find ways to stay physically active even if it means going up and down the stairs a few times for exercise or doing a hundred jumping jacks whenever you have a free moment. Take advantage of the time when you’re loved one is asleep. This can be your sacred time to exercise, meditate, or call a friend to catch up.
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