Acknowledging your feelings about caregiving, especially the negative ones, is a good thing. The more honest you are with yourself and with others, the more likely you are to realize that your emotions are absolutely normal.
How are you?
Do any of these words describe what you feel?
- Emotionally and/or physically exhausted, overwhelmed, at the breaking point—or, flat out burned out?
- Nervous, anxious, depressed, stressed?
- Impatient? Frustrated?
- Guilty for not doing enough for your adult family member, your own family or your employer—or for resenting your caregiver role?
- Angry that you’re caring for someone you don’t like, have never gotten along with, or wasn’t kind to you?
- Wracked with grief for your losses and the should-have-beens?
Do you ever wish it would just be over so you could get your “regular” life back?
Pay attention to your feelings. Don’t minimize them! You may not be able to change the situation but even minor tweaks can keep you sane and healthy.
Issues to Consider
Problems and solutions.
Try to figure out what is making you feel the way you do and see if there are ways to reduce the feeling. Decide what you need—and what is realistic. If you’re overwhelmed, for example, can you delegate or outsource responsibilities and tasks? Can you have friends sign up on an online care coordination service to help with errands and tasks? Are there support groups online, on the telephone, or in person, for you to vent, share ideas, or just listen? Or, would a geriatric care manager (now known as an “aging life care professional”) who knows the services in your area and can tailor them to your parent’s needs be best?
Taking time for you.
Is there a way to get time for yourself or at least a break from caregiving? Stress can harm your immune system so pay attention to your body and your emotions. Gaining distance, even for a short time, can let your mind refresh. Read a book. Have coffee with a friend. Hit the gym. Really, anything that is relaxing, fun or gives you meaning.
Can another family member or a professional take over for a few hours or a weekend? Would respite care make sense, either in your family member’s home or in a place specializing in temporary stays (i.e. assisted living and nursing homes)? Have you explored adult day care where your parent spends several hours socializing in a structured environment? Many senior centers have programs.
Dealing with dementia.
If you’re a dementia caregiver, there may be memory cafes in your area where you and your family member can get together with those in similar straits. Some communities have Alzheimer’s programs at museums, the movies or elsewhere.
What resources are in your community? The more information you have, the better for you and your family member.