Life is full of responsibilities. As we age, our responsibilities increase in significance and broaden to include a wider circle of individuals who depend on us to meet their emotional and physical needs. With a myriad of tasks that demand our attention and sap our energies, juggling families, jobs, social networks, and personal needs all at once proves to be as equally challenging as it is rewarding.
Family carers charged with overseeing their elders’ well-being have an additional weighty responsibility that affects their day-to-day living. With decision-making, emotional care, financial considerations and physical needs constantly requiring their attentiveness, an additional measure of resilience and support is critical for care success. Family caregivers play an invaluable role in enhancing their loved one’s quality of life and ensuring their overall well-being. Therefore, it is crucial for carers to confront the complexity of their role by taking time out to care for themselves, as well.
When asked what gets in their way of caring for themselves, family carers’ responses echo various sentiments:
“I just don’t have time.”
“I feel guilty taking time for myself when my Mom needs me.”
“It feels selfish to block out everything else I need to tackle.”
“I can’t delegate. No one can take care of Dad the way I do.”
These statements only highlight how heavily the responsibility of caring for their loved one rests on their shoulders, and how crucial it is for caregivers to prioritize scheduling slots for occasionally invigorating themselves.
We’ve compiled a list of 5 practical ways for family carers to relieve stress and avoid burnout, ensuring that they can continuously provide for their aging loved one with dedication.
1. Create a self-care routine.
Building self-care slots into your daily schedule creates a default for healthy emotional regulation. Daily self-care can be as basic as sitting down for a coffee break at midday, taking just 10 minutes of reading in quiet, enjoying a brisk walk around the block, or gaining some time to think along a 5-minute drive taken without company while running an errand. With self-care, consistency is key, and keeping the time sacrosanct is what will make the difference between being exhausted or energetic in the role of caregiver.
2. Get support from peers.
There are various formal support venues available to those providing in-home care for elders. Whether through a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meeting, in person or virtually, connecting with others who share your struggles and stresses can be a helpful tool in alleviating stress, gaining validation, or sharing your experiences. Search forums online, or find out if your community offers caregiver support groups at the local senior activities center. With an appropriate forum for sharing your caregiving dilemmas and challenges, you’ll eliminate resentment and find it easier to stay focused, positive, and helpful to your loved one.
3. Consult with a therapist.
With so many complexities and responsibilities to juggle at once, keeping your mind focused and clear can be quite a challenge. Meeting consistently with a skilled therapist can be a practical and comfortable space for processing your feelings, learning how to set boundaries, and improving communication with your loved one who is aging in place and other family members. Building rapport with an objective professional can go a long way in limiting tensions, misunderstandings, and emotional overload.
4. Embrace your limitations.
Caring for a loved one should be and could be a labor of love, even if it seems out of reach. By recognizing the areas in which you are limited and learning to accept them, you can deliver higher quality care that is stress-free. Keeping a constant reminder of how much you are doing for your loved one, will make it easier to accept the areas in which you can’t deliver, even if you wanted to.
Overwhelmed by nutritious meal preparation that consumes too much time? Consider stocking the freezer every two weeks to offer your loved one healthy choices that can be easily reheated. Want to make housekeeping more efficient? Invest in color-coded bins to keep things neat, categorized, and within reach, so you can maintain order with less effort and save time spent on putting things away. With practical tricks and a healthy outlook on how much you’re doing, you can feel calm and positively redirect energy that would otherwise be drained when focused on where your caregiving lacks.
5. Delegate as much as you can.
No one said you have to be doing everything. Caring for a loved one takes its toll emotionally, physically, and financially, and therefore, it is crucial to pursue options that can alleviate at least some responsibility, some of the time. Taking a much-needed respite from caregiving duties can also go a long way in invigorating your role. With constant demands from your loved one, it can be hard to carve out time to totally disconnect for a short while in order to return refreshed and recharged. Also, making temporary caregiver arrangements can feel far from ideal at the moment, yet, prioritizing pockets of self-care, as addressed earlier, will only strengthen your commitment to your loved one and enable you to continue giving without burnout.
In addition, there has been much public reform on the issue and value of aging in place, and therefore are countless resources available to adults in any financial bracket. Putting in some time to research your loved one’s Medicaid eligibility can open new doors for your family that can prove to be revolutionary. You may discover stimulating senior day programs, subsidized aide services at varying levels of care, transportation assistance, and emotional support that can all contribute to significantly lowering stress levels, saving time, and cutting costs.
Family members caring for the elderly should keep in mind that home caregiving services significantly relieve many of the stresses associated with eldercare responsibilities. Hired caregivers can offer valued assistance with meal preparation, grocery shopping, and various other daily household or personal care tasks. Aides can also afford the patient a sense of safety, companionship, and the comfort of remaining autonomous in a familiar environment. This doesn’t mean you’ll be giving up the privilege of caring for an elder, it will only enhance your quality of life and allow you to focus solely on what you enjoy doing most for your loved one.
Feel free to peruse our variety of additional caregiver resources throughout our website, and explore relevant topics such as medical assistance, personal care, and senior companionship.
We’re here for you and happy to assist your family. Reach out to us today to learn more about our team of caring and experienced personal caregivers, registered nurses, and home health aides who expertly serve families just like yours. Give us a call at (845) 425-6555 with any questions.