Whether you’re taking care of an aging parent struggling with dementia, taking care of a disabled spouse or a sick sibling, being the caregiver of an unwell person is a significantly stressful thing to go through. It’s an issue many people have had to deal with today, and very often it is scary, uncertain, challenging and overwhelming. An ailing person requires a lot of support and assistance, and not only will this take a toll on us emotionally, it will also affect financially, which will only lead to more stress. This is why it’s so important for caregivers to be empowered with the tools and support they need so that they can maintain their mental health during a very difficult time. The following are some tips to help you through the challenging of becoming a caregiver.
Work on Mindset
The biggest challenge we face when we transition into becoming caregivers is emotional and mental. We are sad about the fact that the person we love is facing this, we worry about if they’ll be able to survive, and we can’t help but ask why this is happening to us. It is so important for us to come to a point of acceptance with what has happened, and do what we can to make the best of the situation. For example, with aging parents, this would be a time to talk to them, make memories with them and appreciate having them in our lives. It’s easier said than done, and it might require counselling to get through. Without pride, be honest with yourself about what you need, and implement it into your life.
Get Help & Invest in Resources
The truth of the matter is, being a caregiver means you’re going to be carrying quite a heavy load mentally and emotionally, and you can’t do this alone, without some assistance of your own. Luckily there are so many resources you can invest in to help make it easier. For example, you can tap into knowledge resources from organizations that deal with the specific disease your loved one is dealing with, and you can also read books to help you get more educated about how becoming a caregiver will impact your life.
Also, don’t hesitate to consider a more long-term care solution if you can afford it. A live-in nurse or even a day-time caregiver can be a great help. According to JF Cares, a company specializing in senior home care in Broward, “taking care of a person you love and care about is incredibly noble and rewarding, but it also comes with a unique set of challenges because it’s uncharted territory. This can lead to caregiver stress, anxiety and depression. This is when you need to consider getting the help of someone who is qualified in care.”
If it is too difficult, it’s also worth considering long-term care residency for the person. There are many great nursing homes that can give your loved one the care they need, and taking this option isn’t something to feel bad or guilty about. It’s something many people frown upon, but what is wrong with putting a family member in a place where they get the best care and attention? It’s important to make the decision that works for you, and for the person you’re taking care of. Ultimately, no one else can know what works more than you.
Lean On Your Support System
As a caregiver, you mostly think about being the support system, but you also need one in order to get through this. It’s tempting to shut people out because we don’t want to burden them, but we need people in this moment more than ever. Tell your close family and friends what you’re going through so they can be there for you, help you and comfort you when it gets hard. Your support system is who will remind you to take a break, and cheer you up when you need it; and without them, the depression will overpower you.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care
When we’re focusing all our attention on a person who is in dire need of assistance and care, it can feel a bit selfish to think about ourselves. But if we want to be effective as caregivers and avoid breaking down, we really need to take time out for ourselves. This means different things to different people; and it could be anything from going to the gym, meeting up with your friends for coffee and a catch-up, watching a movie or getting pampered. Don’t be ashamed to take this time for yourself, because ultimately, you show up better and take care of people better when you’ve taken care of yourself.