If you care for someone who has a chronic illness or is an elderly friend or relative, you’re probably also dealing with “caregiver stress”. That’s perfectly understandable. There’s a lot on your plate. Everyone’s life is full. Add caring for someone to the mix and you will soon realize there just aren’t enough hours in the day. As a caregiver, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and trapped. You’re powerless to change your loved one’s situation or illness. All you can do is make life for your loved one easier and safer and as close to “normal” as possible. In order to be of any help to anyone else you have to learn to take care of yourself and constantly de-stress. Remember, you are not alone and there are things you can do to help yourself.
First of all accept that there are some things you can’t fix and that you can only do what is humanly possible. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not a miracle worker. Be realistic about what you’re trying to accomplish. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. By all means, don’t try to do everything by yourself — use and ask for all the help you can get. Tap family and friends for any help they can give no matter how incidental it may seem. If they can save you a trip to the store or fix a meal…that’s great! Maybe they can relieve you for a few hours so you can have some “me time”.
Take care of yourself physically. It’s especially hard to care for someone when you have your own health problems to deal with. See your doctor for a physical and follow any recommendations. Don’t smoke, limit your alcohol and caffeine intake, and exercise regularly. Make sure you get enough sleep. Try to keep up a social life and keep up with family — the goal is to not isolate yourself and to give you the opportunity to enjoy the company of others with an outlet to share what you are feeling and experiencing. Talking things out is a stress reliever.
If possible, try joining a caregiver support group. It’s an opportunity to learn from others who are in the same position you are while being a great source of encouragement. There are many groups on-line and at local senior centers and hospitals. There are classes available through the Red Cross and the Alzheimer’s Association that can connect you to local resources for caregivers.
It’s important to give yourself a break. When you get a break you will be able to handle your tasks with a fresh perspective. You don’t need to be responsible for all things at all times. You aren’t alone. Utilize the services from your community whether it’s an adult day care center or a homecare agency. Don’t feel guilty about getting some help. For more information visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com