Taking Care of Yourself as a Family Caregiver
Meeting the needs of a loved one who is sick or injured is a lot of responsibility to put on one person. In fact, caregivers who try to do it all by themselves are more likely to suffer from caregiver stress and depression.
Getting help from others to assist in caregiving duties not only reduces your workload, but also provides you with someone to lean on in difficult times. A companion can also reduce the feeling of isolation that can develop when you try to go it alone. Respite care can also provide some much needed relief for both you and the person you are caring for. Remember that reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of personal strength and care - for yourself and your loved one.
Asking for and accepting help seems like an easy enough concept, but in reality it can be difficult for caregivers who feel guilty passing off certain responsibilities or who don't want to burden other people.
You should expect to receive offers of help from others, whether you are caring for a young child with an illness or for a senior with Alzheimer's disease. In order to make the most of these offers, make a list of things that need need to be done. Whether this is keeping the loved one company or mowing the lawn, you should itemize the tasks that you do each day or week. This way, you can easily assign tasks that match a helper's skills, or you can let them choose their own.
If you would like help from someone who is less than willing to give it, you should think carefully about your request. Think of tasks that this person would be more likely to say "yes" to - if your sister loves to cook, she may be more likely to help out with meals for your mom. At the same time, if your brother hates driving, he will be more likely to say no if you ask him for help transporting your loved one.
It might also help to make a list of the people you know you can count on to help you. Write down names, phone numbers and email addresses and keep them in a central location. Add support groups, church organizations or other home care agencies that you may be able to use for support.
For those who don't have the resources within their family and friends networks, or who simply don't feel comfortable asking for help from loved ones, home care agencies are the best option. Interim HealthCare offers a variety of services that can be of help to caregivers, from medical care to homemaking services. Help is available - all you have to do is ask.