Being a caregiver means giving of yourself daily to help your loved one live the best possible life. It means being the nurse, homemaker, cook, bill payer, handyman and banker, as well as filling many other positions.
With all these responsibilities, how is it possible to take care of your own needs? Many caregivers tend to overlook their own needs so they can care for their loved one instead. While this is very admirable, none of us are super heroes and we all need a little help at times.
Taking time for yourself can be very difficult when the demands of caregiving are so great. I have many caregivers who report that they simply just don’t have time for themselves. To this, I say:
If you don’t make time to take care of yourself, how can you continue to provide the best care for your loved one? If something happens to the caregiver, who will take care of the caregiver and their loved one? Let’s stop this cycle before it begins.
I understand that many caregivers simply don’t have the support that they need. Families tend to be smaller, everyone is working, society is more mobile, and other factors are at play. Other family members or friends may not be comfortable providing hands-on care for your loved one, but there are other important things these people can do. Hands-off tasks that make a difference could include a neighbor cutting the grass or taking out the trash cans, a friend sitting with your loved one while you take a break, or a church member bringing meals.
It really does take a village to keep an elderly loved one in the community. I encourage caregivers to accept offers to help, even the smallest ones. Of course, I also encourage caregivers to look into community resources/programs that are available to assist them or their loved one, such as Council on Aging’s Caregiver Support Program.
Caregiving is difficult! Don’t try to be a super hero and do everything on your own, as caregiver burnout will occur. When caregivers allow others to assist, not only do they begin to receive some much needed time to themselves, but also a sense of community and support that every caregiver needs.