Being a primary caregiver can be extremely rewarding. Providing care for a loved one in need is an act of love, kindness, and loyalty. Day after day, you gift your loved one with attention and care, improving their quality of life, even if they are unable to express their gratitude.
Yet, when caring for an ailing parent, spouse, or other loved one, you’re likely to face a myriad of new responsibilities, many of which are unfamiliar and even intimidating. It is not unusual (and frankly, nothing to be ashamed of) to feel overwhelmed and even alone.
Being a family caregiver can be a challenging role and likely one that you haven’t been trained to tackle. Caregiving can trigger a host of difficult emotions, including fear, anger, resentment, guilt, helplessness, loneliness and grief. It is important to recognize and accept what you are feeling –both good and bad. Don’t beat yourself up over your feelings of doubts and insecurities.
Nearing Your Wit’s End in Caregiving?
Just because you are experiencing these feelings doesn’t mean that you don’t love your family member –they simply mean you’re human. So when you or the family caregiver reaches this stage mentally, emotionally and even physically, it is time to get professional help. There are many ways you can make the caregiving process easier and more gratifying for both you and your loved one.
Seek Out Other Caregivers
Loneliness is perhaps one of the most defeating emotions one can experience. However, you are not alone in this. Seek and accept support from others who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Even if you are the primary family caregiver, understanding and accepting that you can’t do everything on your own is vital. This is especially true if you are a caregiver from a distance (meaning you perhaps have to drive more than an hour to your loved one). You will definitely need help from other family members, siblings, and friends.
Find Professional Caregiver Support
Even more reliable than seeking help from family and friends is enlisting the services of health professionals. If you do not get the support you need, you will no sooner burn out—and that will compromise your capacity to provide care. Getting professional Home Care or Hospice Care (for terminally ill patients) can go a long way in helping you get respite.
Determine Which Tasks You Can Take On
But before you can seek for help, have a clear understanding of your family member’s needs. Take some time to list all the specific caregiving tasks required, being as detailed as possible. This will help you decide which activities you can take on (be realistic about your capabilities and the time you have available) and which ones you can handover.
Know Your Limits
Be realistic about how much of your time and yourself you can give and clearly communicate your limitations to health professionals, family members and other people involved.