Most of us never expected we would become caregivers. We had our own careers, raised our children and thought we'd be able to relax and enjoy ourselves. But then our parents started to age and their needs changed. It was gradual at first, so we didn't notice.
Then a "sentinel event" occurred that changed everything. Perhaps it was a fall and broken hip or a stroke. In other cases it was a serious diagnosis, which raised concerns as to whether they could remain in their current residential environment with or without help.
Eventually your loved one agreed to additional help provided by you without giving much thought to the impact on your life. As you took on this role, you found the time required only increases and the responsibility can be overwhelming. Caregiver burnout is almost inevitable.
No matter what kind of situation you're in, we think you'll find some helpful ways to think about care giving by reviewing these tips from The National Family Caregivers Association.
Ten Tips for Family Caregivers
1. Choose to take charge of your life, and don't let your loved one's illness or disability always take center stage.
2. Remember to be good to yourself. You're doing a very hard job and you deserve some quality time just for you.
3. Watch out for signs of depression, and don't delay in getting professional help when you need it.
4. When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do.
5. Educate yourself about your loved one's condition. Information is empowering.
6. There's a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one's independence.
7. Trust your instincts. They'll lead you in the right direction.
8. Grieve for your losses and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
9. Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and a citizen.
10. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.
Most of our clients contact us when they are well into caregiver burnout. They realize that the task is more than they can handle and they need professional help. We help them design cost effective care plans that meets the unique needs of their loved ones. We also offer ongoing counseling and support. To learn more about our services call us or visit www.NSSeniorCare.com.
Nancy Carey, RN