Providing care is stressful and demanding. For many, it can be the equivalent of a full-time job or more. Sleep patterns may be altered. Activity with others may be drastically reduced.
An adult child may need to assume a new role with his parent. A healthy spouse may need to become more assertive and assume greater control over his partner’s life. This can be particularly difficult if the caregiver has been the passive person in the relationship.
These role changes can cause fear, conflict and confusion for everyone. Ill persons may resent the burden they have created.
They may also feel anger and frustration in relinquishing roles, and feel out of control.
Balance your responsibilities. Caregivers can easily try to meet too many obligations and responsibilities to the ill person, to other family members and to themselves. Before assuming caregiving responsibilities, carefully assess the impact on everyone—children included. Look at sacrifices everyone will need to make as well as possible benefits. Caregiving should not be assumed without careful thought to the expense to your relationship with your spouse, your own physical and emotional health, or the welfare of your children. Time and energy needs to be available to maintain quality relationships with spouse and children, who may be unintentionally neglected.
Meet your own needs. Self-sacrifice needs to be tempered with healthy recognition of your own needs. Ignoring your own needs is detrimental to yourself and to the person who needs care. Providing heavy care and getting little sleep leads to poor physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Set limits on what you can do. And most important, communicate your needs and what you can and cannot do for your parent and other family members. It is unrealistic and unfair to expect other people to know when you need help. Eliminate tasks which can be left undone.
Also, delegate tasks; ask family members to help. If another family member is not available, hire someone or ask a friend, neighbor, someone from your church or other organizations or get a volunteer from a local agency.
Plan time for yourself. This is not always easy to do, but it is important. Many people feel guilty about leaving the ill person and enjoying themselves. Caregivers can jeopardize their own health, and lose efficiency and effectiveness. If you become physically or emotionally exhausted, you will find your susceptibility to illness increasing, your problem solving ability decreasing, your frustrations mounting, and your emotions getting out of control—all warning signals. Maintain your friendships. Leisure time has positive effects on morale and energy.
Realize, too, that the decision to be a caregiver is not a permanent one. There may come a time when you are no longer able to provide care. Consider options—including nursing home care—in advance.
Involvement in a family support group may also provide answers to problems of caregiving and reduce social and emotional isolation. Sharing with others who are living through the same experience can be beneficial, and a source for venting feelings with others who understand.
Through awareness of the full life cycle with each of its stages may be at times dismaying, learning in advance about those stages can help ease the transition.
Contact Pure Home Care Services at (586) 293-2457 today! If you live in Macomb County or the surrounding area, we can help you care for your loved ones.