Many of us find ourselves, at one point or another in our lives, becoming a primary caregiver for our parent or loved one. Oftentimes, our loved one’s disease process is long. Sometimes we find ourselves providing increasingly more care and assistance over the course of many years. When we become so responsible for the wellbeing of another it is common to lose sight of our own needs. We pour from our own cup all day, everyday, and while this can work for diagnoses that last days or a month in duration, it can be nearly impossible to keep this up for many months or many years.
Caregiving Tip #2 focuses on the burden of care for the primary caregiver, recognizing it, and taking care of yourself so you can take care of your loved one. Between helping with meal preparation, household chores, paying bills, and medical appointments, days can begin to roll into each other and before you know it, you have been working 7 days per week without anytime to yourself. Here are a few questions to get you thinking about your own burden or care or the burden of care on the primary caregiver, if that is a friend or relative:
- Do you live with your loved one?
- Do you have any scheduled time off of caregiving? If so, how reliable is the person providing you the time off? Do they ever cancel? Do they offer or do you have to ask?
- If you don’t live with your loved one, how many phone calls do you get per week asking for help? Per day?
- Do you feel you could take a 7-day vacation where you have no contact with your loved on and come home and not worry about what would happen?
- Can you leave the house for an appointment or for the day without worrying about your loved one?
If any of these things sound familiar, you may want to consider how to balance your quality of life with your responsibilities as a primary caregiver. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
One great way to bring some balance to your caregiving responsibilities is to enlist professional help. Family help is wonderful and important, if you have it, but professional help is an extra layer of assistance that can help guarantee you some worry-free time off. Maybe having someone come and help once or twice per week so you can go shopping, run errands, or even go to a movie can help you come back a more relaxed and recharged caregiver for your loved one. It can also be a great to have your loved one spend some time with a different person.
At Senior Helpers, our caregivers can participate in activities, go on an outing, talk about old memories, or simply spend time at the home to give you a break. Playing cards, painting, singing old familiar songs, looking at old photos, or making a meal together are all great companionship activities that can give you some time off. Of course, our caregivers are also able to assist with things like bathing and dressing assistance as well as help using the toilet or changing adult briefs so you can feel comfortable being out of the house for any period of time.
Remember, caregiving for someone with a long disease process is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure to care for your own needs as well as the needs of your loved one. If you would like to know what Senior Helpers can do to improve your and your loved one’s quality of life, give us a call.
Spend some time considering whether you have enough help as the primary caregiver. If someone else is the primary caregiver, talk to them about it. Consider reaching out to Senior Helpers for a free assessment if you feel you need more support. We can assist with home care and we can also share information about other resources that might be able to ease the burden and help you take care of yourself as you take care of your loved one.