A caregivers job is never done, but you must create time for yourself.
Becoming a giver of constant care is a job not asked for. Care giving often leads to personal satisfaction and self-worth. It can give you a feeling of giving back to a loved one and lead to a stronger relationship with the person receiving care. Importantly, it also eliminates feelings of regret or guilt of “not doing enough” or “not being there” after a loved one has passed. Though we do not choose this honored service, there are pit falls we must not plunge into. The responsibility of care giving adds more to routine daily pressures.
The Darker Side
The darker side of care giving may lead to extreme cases of “burnout” or severe stress. This creates a ripple effect on your health and well-being— It also affects family members, friends and co-workers.
It’s important to be self-aware in where you are each day.
- Denial – in the person being diagnosed
- Anger/Guilt – directed at the person with the chronic condition
- Social Withdrawal – loss of interest or time to pursue activities you used to enjoy
- Anxiety – about facing the future and new challenges
- Depression – change in family role and responsibilities
- Exhaustion – pressure of trying to keep up
- Sleeplessness – caused by a listening ear for the loved one or thinking of never ending concerns
- Irritability – leads to moodiness and short temper
- Lack of Concentration – routine tasks become difficult
- Health Problems – less likely to take care of oneself
If you find yourself exhibiting several of these signs there are solutions to help lessen the stress.
Useful coping strategies include:
- Take breaks – Schedule quiet time, visit with friends who can offer positive reinforcement or take regular days off from routine. Options for care of the patient could be child or adult day care services, or custodial care which helps with daily hygiene.
- Take care – Eat balanced meals, get an adequate amount of sleep and take time to exercise. Expect help from your family in accomplishing these tasks for you.
- Understand your limits – Don’t do it alone. Realize that you cannot do everything for everyone. Do not sacrifice family, relationships, or one’s health. A conversation with a friend, playing games, listening to music, reading a book outside can be calming and help breakup
the day for you.
- See your doctor for a check-up – Inform your doctor that you are a caregiver and tell him or her about any symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having.
- Keep your sense of humor – Smile, laugh and find humor every day. The happier and healthier you are the better your loved one will be served.
In spite of the consequences, most families rise to the challenges of new responsibilities and tasks. You are only one person and the care you give every day is truly an act of love and devotion.
Take heart, we at ARJ are here to help you through these times. We’re here to chat if you need us. If you would like to talk to a nurse or a patient services representative, give us a call now.
Below are some additional resources.
Family Caregiver Alliance
Women’s Health Organization
Caring for Aging Loved Ones,- Focus on the Family