The job of a caregiver can be rewarding and challenging, all in the same day! Adult children who take on the responsibility of providing elder care for their aging parents come to mind – juggling work and your own family in addition to caring for a parent with declining health can be quite an undertaking. Continued support is a key factor to promoting a healthy, efficient relationship between a caregiver and the person they are caring for. We are huge advocates of leveraging local resources whenever possible and finding time for yourself.
People who are emotionally and physically exhausted or guilt-ridden cannot provide good care. You may be taking care of a loved one 24 hours a day or you may be stopping at a nursing home every day after work to visit a relative. If you have multiple responsibilities you may find yourself feeling resentful toward the person to whom you are devoting so much time. According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, as a caregiver, you should neither expect-nor try-to be on-call 24 hours a day. Every caregiver needs respite and relief. There are a variety of support systems available in most communities, including but not limited to:
- Mail-carrier alert program
- Meal programs
- Home health aides
- Grocery delivery services
- Occupational, speech and physical therapists
- Social workers
- Respite care caregivers
Many caregivers may also find it helpful to share the responsibility with other members of the family. Have a family pow-wow to create a game plan and write out a schedule. Be sure to take into consideration that different people have different capacities (use the “20 Questions Every Family Caregiver Should Ask” ebook to guide your planning – get it here). Dividing responsibilities associated with caring for a loved one can be beneficial in a number of ways-giving the person receiving care an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, allowing family members to contribute in a way that they are comfortable with (i.e. a grandchild who is an accountant can be responsible for her grandpa’s finances), but most importantly in giving caregivers a necessary break that all parties involved will appreciate.
Are you a caregiver? What are some things that you do to give yourself a break? Share them here!