At any given time in the United States, about 29% of the population is taking care of a family member or friend who has a chronic illness, is disabled, or simply elderly. Almost half of these caregivers also have children at home. Statistics show that if care is being provided for someone over 50, the caregiver is probably between 50 and 64 and also may have health problems. Most of the care involves help with personal hygiene, dressing, preparing meals, grocery shopping, transportation, and medication reminders.That’s an awful lot of care being provided for an awful lot of people. Anyone who is a caregiver can tell you that it drains you emotionally, physically, and spiritually. If you are new to this role, it will be intimidating and at times frustrating. Your cardinal rule for giving care should be: DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL. The reason for this is very simple and basic — if you try to do it all, you won’t be able to take care of yourself. How can you take care of someone else?
Whatever you do, don’t claim the role of “caregiver” for yourself exclusively. You may feel it’s all on your shoulders because you live the closest to your loved one or because it appears you have more time than other family members. Maybe you’re the oldest of the siblings or perhaps the siblings don’t talk much and you think it’ll be easier to do it yourself rather than work with them. Don’t give in to any family tensions and be sure to call upon family members and friends for help and support. There are things you can do to make it work.
First of all, arm yourself with information about what your loved one’s situation is and what kind of help your loved one requires. After you’ve identified your loved one’s needs….communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep everyone in the loop and ask for help. You may be reluctant for fear of being turned down or because you don’t want to impose on anyone. Don’t think that somehow you don’t measure up because you can’t do everything alone. A caregiver who is alone ends up being a stressed caregiver and useless to the one they love. Make specific requests of your family members and friends or ask “how they would like to help”. Options could include doing the grocery shopping, keeping track of bills, filling needed prescriptions or other tasks that don’t require hands on care. Maybe they can provide some financial assistance or research community services. Surely, there’s something even the most reluctant or timid can do.
If you find that you’re all alone in providing care, realize you may need some outside professional assistance, even if it’s only to give yourself a much needed break and time to relax. Be honest with yourself and know you can’t go it alone indefinitely without paying a heavy price. Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com