Being a caregiver for a family member has many challenges, and isn’t always as rewarding as it is tough. It is important to remember the decision to fill that role shows kindness, compassion and dedication to your loved one. The challenges are more than just physical—they can also be emotionally and mentally exhausting. Below are things to think about to help you balance taking care of yourself while taking care of your family member.
“It’s a good idea for both the caregiver and the family member being cared for to understand the role of the caregiver. This may be different depending on the relationship with the family member, other responsibilities of the caregiver or the type and frequency of attention the family member needs,” says Victoria Furci, Area Director of Case Management for Kindred Hospital Northeast – Stoughton. “The caregiver often wants to do it all, but it’s important to receive help from healthcare professionals, family, friends and volunteers. The caregiver’s role should be to provide a safe, healthy living environment for the family member, wherever that may be.”
If you are a family caregiver, or think you might assume that role at some point in your life, consider the following tips to help balance taking care of yourself with taking care of your loved one.
Assess your abilities
Knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses will help you take a realistic approach and better prepare you and your loved one for what you can reasonably do.
When people offer to help, accept it
In fact, you can and should reach out to others for help. No person can do this all on his or her own.
Learn as much about your family member’s illness or condition as possible, and not from the Internet alone. Legitimate medical information will empower you in providing the best care possible.
Watch out for caregiver fatigue or signs of depression
Being a caregiver may become an overwhelming commitment, and it is important to seek professional help if/when you need it.
Take care of yourself
As a caregiver, it is easy to put all of your efforts into caring for your loved one to the point where there is no time or energy to care for yourself. Caregiving is hard. You deserve quality time just for you, whether that means taking a break to go for a walk or read a book, or more of an extended vacation to recharge your batteries.
If you need help caring for a loved one, call 1.866.KINDRED 24 hours a day, seven days a week and a Registered Nurse can walk you through care options that best fit their needs.
This story is adapted from The Pulse, the health and wellness magazine of Kindred Hospitals of Massachusetts.