Taking Care of YOU: Caring for the Caregiver
Expert Senior Living is a FREE Referral and Placement Agency
Caring for the Caregiver
We hear this often: “My husband is the person with Alzheimer’s, but now I’m the one in the hospital!” Such a situation is all too common. The effects of caregiving on health and well-being are staggering.
If you are a caregiving spouse between the ages of 66 and 96 and are experiencing mental or emotional strain, you have a risk of dying that is 63 percent higher than that of people your age who are not caregivers.
If you are a baby boomer who has assumed a caregiver role for your parents while simultaneously juggling work and raising adolescent children, you face an increased risk for depression, chronic illness, and a possible decline in quality of life. Studies show that an estimated 46 percent to 59 percent of family caregivers are clinically depresse
The following are some effective tools for self-care that can start you on your way to wellness.
Tool# 1: Reducing Personal Stress
Your level of stress is influenced by many factors, including the following:
Whether your caregiving is voluntary. Your relationship with the care recipient. Your coping abilities. The level of care your are providing. Whether or not support is available.
Steps to Managing Stress
Recognize warning signs early, know them and don’t wait until your are overwhelmed to act. These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness.
Identify what you can and cannot change. When you try to change things over which you have no control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?”
Taking some action to reduce stress gives us back a sense of control. Stress reducers can be simple activities like walking and other forms of exercise, gardening, meditation, or having coffee with a friend.
Tool #2: Seeking Solutions
Seeking solutions to difficult situations is, of course, one of the most important tools in caregiving. Once you have identified a problem, taking action to solve it can change the situation and also change your attitude to a more positive one, giving you more confidence in your abilities.
Steps for Seeking Solutions
Identify the problem. Look at the situation with an open mind. The real problem might not be what first comes to mind. For example, you think that the problem is simply that you are tired all the time, when the more basic difficulty is your belief that “no one can care for John like I can.” The problem? Thinking that you have to do everything yourself.
List possible solutions. One idea is to try a different perspective: “Even though someone else provides help to John in a different way than I do, it can be just as good.” Ask a friend to help. Call Expert Senior Living and ask about agencies in your area that could help provide care.
Tool #3: Asking for and Accepting Help
When people have asked if they can be of help to you, how often have you replied, “Thank you, but I’m fine.” Many caregivers donʼt know how to marshal the goodwill of others and are reluctant to ask for help. You may not wish to “burden” others or admit that you can’t handle everything yourself.
Help can come from community resources, family, friends, and professionals. Ask them. Donʼt wait until you are overwhelmed and exhausted or your health fails. Reaching out for help when you need it is a sign of personal strength.
Remember, it is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when you are a caregiver—itʼs an important part of the job. You are responsible for your own self-care.
But Where Do I Start?
Expert Senior Living is a FREE referral and placement service available to all families and seniors in the Bay Area. Our consultants are Experts in the local Senior Living industry and work to provide you and your family the information that you need to decide on where to place Mom or Dad. After assessing your needs and desires, together we will choose 3-4 communities that seem like the best fit. We will schedule a tour and attend with you to see the options we have chosen. Once a community has been chosen, we will walk you through the move-in process.