There is no doubt that caregiving for another person can be challenging, rewarding, hard work, emotional, and sometimes exhausting. What about when you are the primary or secondary caregiver for a relative? The emotional level of commitment and feeling of responsibility immediately becomes heavier. According to a study done by AARP, 39.8 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult over age 50 in 2015. Only 18.2% of these people were caregivers by vocation, which means over 75% of adults are care giving outside of their normal family and work hours.
We talked to some adults who have been caregivers to relatives themselves and now work in the caregiving industry to help others navigate the waters of caregiving for a loved one. Here were their top three pieces of advice:
1. Recharge yourself. You give your time, efforts, energy, and strength to meeting another person’s needs, so it is very important to ‘replenish’ if you will, your own strength and energy. You cannot successfully pour into someone else if you are on empty. Take a day (or a week) off, get plenty of rest, and make room for things that are important to you.
2. Relinquish the guilt. That’s right. Just let it go. Guilt will rear its ugly head making you feel bad for taking time for yourself or saying ‘no’ sometimes. You are only human and you give what you can to all of those around you. If you give until there’s nothing left, bitterness will set in and that is a lot worse than guilt. So acknowledge the fact that guilt may come, but you just wave as it passes you by.
3. Request help. This is the most important piece of advice. Numbers one and two cannot happen if you are unwilling to ask for help. If you have other family members who are willing and able, be honest with them about sharing the responsibilities and don’t downplay the realities of caregiving. Like the famous quote by John Heywood says, “Many hands make light work.”
If you do not have enough hands to help, consider hiring an outside caregiver through an agency. Even paying someone for 1 or 2 days a week can be an immense relief. Let’s not forget that the aging or sick adult may want a break from the same faces and routines everyday as well. By putting these three things into practice, the situation improves for all involved.
This is GoldenCare’s specialty. Let us help you find the right solution for your family. Nearly all of our team members have been a caregiver at one time or another, so we know exactly what you’re going through. Click the Contact Us tab at the top of this page or call us at the phone listed above.
These statements have not been evaluated by a medical professional and are strictly opinion. As always, talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.