One vital part of the U.S. health care system which is often overlooked by professional health practitioners is the large growing segment, (29% of the U.S. population or 65 million people), which provides caregiver services to love ones at home. (1)
Their assistance, dedication and tender loving care (TLC) is immeasurable to the persons needing the support daily but who takes care of the caregiver? Unless the caregiver is fortunate indeed, the persons considered to be the caregiver will have to take immediate measures to start self-caring for themselves.
Covered below are several important areas of concern which caregivers need to implement as self-caring measures as this type of vocation will take its toll physically, emotionally, financially, and socially if left unattended.
* Observe for signs of burnout, lack of strength, motivation and sadness. A caregiver also needs to watch over irregular sleep patterns, a short temper or losing control over common situations.
* Stop trying for perfection as this is not the time for being an outstanding housekeeper, hostess, or super-Mom or Dad. Setting priorities and keeping them will be an invaluable asset for the self-caring caregiver at this time: anything not on one’s priority list needs to be eliminated according to necessity. Don’t allow anyone to further add to your priority list.
* Cultivate and practice the art of “putting things off ‘til later.” Persons would be surprised to find out how much of their lives is really not that important at a time such as when providing caregiving.
* Learn how to delegate authority or tasks to others: have others go grocery shopping or have a neighbor pick up Jr. from school. Share with someone at church the situation as churches usually have available a “support” system of some kind.
* Find out all you can about the illness you are dealing with and speak if possible to the attending physician, nurse, or visiting home health care practitioner. While they are there perhaps only for a half an hour they can provide a depository of helpful information. Use the Internet to research everything concerning your charge’s condition and dealing with it.
Additional Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
Support groups may help in many instances; however, this writer personally found them not the best way to combat depression as listening to the ills of others contributed to my state of sadness. However, there are many excellent online resources which offer support via the Internet which may be a help: Caregiver.com and CareGiverStress.Com are two such sites among many.
Learn to deal with the feelings which you are feeling: impatience, suppressed anger, fear, hopelessness, a sense of drowning and being overwhelmed. These are valid emotions and feelings to have at this time and they are part of the territory for a caregiver. They are negative feelings yes, but there is nothing negative about having them and are perfectly normal.
Mega Important Self-Caring Tips for Caregivers!
Take time off for yourself and go for a cup of coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts once a week, bi-monthly or monthly. Sit there for an hour and read a newspaper while you take a “breath.”
Spend time activating the power of prayer. There comes a time that caregivers must realize they need help and help may not be available. Not everyone wants to share in this responsibility or “burden” and that is another area which must be dealt with at the appropriate moment. For now, caregivers need to draw on a “Higher Power”.
(1) Newsmax. Nov. 2010. http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/headline_health/caregivers_care_themself/2010/11/18/362410.html
Written by Beverly Anne Sanchez, Feb. 14, 2011