Many caregivers suffer from an ailment called “tunnel vision.” This dilemma is caused by an overwhelming amount of work and needs that need to be met to the point you focus on what’s right in front of you — more work. There’s laundry and housework. There’s personal care for your loved one. There are doctor visits, grocery shopping and cooking. Then there’s your own personal life which often includes caring for your own immediate family and making it to your paying job. It won’t be long before the stress and exhaustion set in and then will come the resentment and possible break down. Caregivers often develop serious illnesses, depression, anxiety and total withdrawal from those who could help. Caregiving is something you should never, never, never do alone.
Read the following fact sheet on caregiver stress.
Help is Available!
Getting others involved with your loved one’s care is not only helpful but it will also improve your loved one’s life. Get your family involved whenever possible. Try not to take “no” for an answer. According to womenshealth.gov, even if they can only help with grocery shopping or taking your mom or dad to their doctor’s visits, it will give you a much needed small break. Write down your loved one’s schedule and make copies for all your nearby family members. Ask them for help with a task that they can manage. It will be time they can spend with their own loved one. Your parent or spouse will enjoy their company. Also ask faraway family members for help — perhaps they can come for a week’s visit — and really give you a break; or provide some needed financial help.
Community Resources are Available
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, most communities offer adult day care, respite care and in-home care. Medicare and Medicaid will pay for some services. Research what resources are available. Also, make sure to check with your loved one’s health insurance. Most health insurance companies will pay for some of these services but if they do not, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. Caregiver support groups are also common in most communities. You need the support of people who are walking in your shoes. They can listen to your problems and give you tips on how they’ve managed to cope.
Are You Over Stressed?
Anger is often the first sign of stress, followed by frustration. If you are having trouble sleeping, eating too much or too little, turning to alcohol or becoming forgetful, you are experiencing high stress. You are so important to your loved one so you must take care of your own needs in order to be there to help them.
Here are some tips to keep yourself going:
- Eat healthy meals and snacks.
- Get enough sleep.
- Get out in the fresh air and exercise. Sunshine is a natural tonic and you’ll need your strength — you’re running a marathon!
- Ask for help! Friends, church members and neighbors are probably just waiting for you to ask for help. Perhaps you just need someone to sit with mom or dad while you get out to visit a friend or to take care of your own household’s needs. Sometimes you just need a nap. Ask for help and keep asking until you find people who are willing and able to give that help.
Homework — Your Caregiving Network
- Sit down and write down all the names and phone numbers of your family members that could even remotely help. Don’t forget to include the driving grandchildren. Elders love to be with young people and you need the taxi service!
- Write down your loved one’s neighbor’s names and numbers.
- Write down all your parent’s friends’ names and numbers.
- Write down your own close friend’s names and numbers.
- Call your town’s senior center and find out what services are available nearby. Write those numbers down.
- Call your loved one’s health insurance office and find out what resources they will pay for. Some may even have their own in-home care services.
- Schedule yourself a doctor’s visit. Stay on top of any health issues you may have.
- Write down your loved one’s daily schedule and post it on the refrigerator for handy reference.
Take care of yourself so you can care for those you love!