“I love my mother, but sometimes I feel like I can’t stand her at the same time.”
“I feel like my mother is slowly fading away while she’s taking care of my father. She is forgetting to take care of herself in this process.”
“I can’t do this anymore It is sucking the energy out of me.”
These and other similar statements are very common among family caregivers.
As life expectancy increases, medical treatments advance, and increasing numbers of people live with chronic illness and disabilities, more and more of us find ourselves caring for a loved one. Whether it is a handicapped spouse, an aging parent, or a child with a mental or physical illness, regardless of the circumstances, being a family caregiver is a challenging role.
Care-giving can trigger a host of difficult emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness, and grief. Accept your feelings, it does not mean that you do not love your family member; it just means you are human.
Pablo Casals, the cellist, said, “The capacity to care is the thing that gives life its deepest significance and meaning”. However, it can also become an overwhelming responsibility and a challenging role.
Therefore, it is very important, to set limits to avoid caregiver burnout.
In addition to setting limits try and remember these useful tips:
- Do not do it all alone, ask for help from your family and friends – you will be surprised how much they were waiting for you to do so. Requesting help when needed, and planning for breaks keeps you fresh and rested, and ready for the next caregiving challenge.
- Do not keep your emotions bottled up, find someone to whom you can vent, it helps and reminds you that you are not alone.
- Take the time to stay social and to keep doing things you enjoy, and do not give up on your hobbies.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and boost your energy. With regular exercise, you will feel much more energized, refreshed, and alert.
- Eat well. Keep your energy up and your mind clear by eating nutritious meals throughout the day.
- Get enough sleep, so you can handle the stress and the physical needs of the day after.
- Take time every day to talk and to connect with the person you’re caring for can release hormones that boost your mood, reduce stress, which improves your physical health and the health of your loved one as well.
With the right help and support, you can be an effective, loving caregiver without having to sacrifice yourself in the process.
Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others!