Family caregivers caring for senior loved ones have challenges that may consume their time, finances, and spirit every day.
At times the day to day tasks can be overwhelming for any of us, so when it happens to you please know you’re not alone.
Some days spent as caregivers are joyous, some days are fun, some are tiring and other days are absolutely frustrating.
When the frustrating days outnumber the joyous days, or even if it feels like there are just too many of them, caregivers need to have an outlet so that they can continue to care for their precious (OK not always precious) seniors.
Caregiver Coping Strategies
There are a number of ways to deal with the pressures of each new day, to make it easier on our spirits and our minds — and maybe even our bodies. We hope you try some of these to help you make it through your day:
- Take a breath. When things begin to happen too fast or when your temper gets too short, step back. Take a deep breath and maybe step outside for a breath of fresh air. Get some perspective on how to handle the challenge from another angle; figure out a new approach that won’t be as frustrating to you and your senior loved one.
- Recognize your emotions are normal. Whether you are frustrated, angry, tired, jealous, guilty or whatever, it is a normal response to the burdens you face everyday. Realizing your emotions and validating their presence is a healthy step. Acting on those emotions is not a good idea. You must deal with the emotions, talk with someone about them, write down your thoughts and feelings and plan ways to deal with your swirling emotions.
- Take time away from your senior loved one to get personal respite. Even if for only a short time. Take a hot bath, take a walk, read a book or magazine, have a cup of herb tea, get some retail therapy at the mall, take a weekend off or take a trip. Having a backup caregiver such as other family members, friends, relatives or hired help will give you much needed respite especially when your emotions are flowing freely.
- Set up your support network and assign people in your network some small jobs to relieve your burden. This could be sporadically when you begin to feel overwhelmed or regularly to help prevent you from feeling frustrated. Don’t be afraid to ask, keep a list of tasks so that if someone offers to help you are ready to receive it!
- Avoid depression by taking care of yourself. Find ways to relax, give yourself a break, learn about whatever disease affects your loved one, and attend a support group or online chat to gain control over your emotions through knowledge. Knowledge is power! You might want to check out some of the caregiving books in the Senior Care Corner Bookstore.
- Forgive yourself if everything isn’t perfect everyday, if the house isn’t spotless, if your senior loved one is not happy everyday, or if you didn’t finish each task you set out to accomplish. You are making a difference and you won’t regret the time you spent caring for your senior loved one. They might not be able to thank you, but you are valuable!
The number of family caregivers continues to grow each day as more baby boomers become seniors, sometimes needing more help to age successfully. Reach out and ask for the help you need. Don’t suffer in silence and cause your own health to decline.
Please know that you are worth the effort to find ways to cope with the ups and downs of caregiving!
Do you have some practical advice to share with other caregivers? If so, please share it with us and the rest of the Senior Care Corner community!