If you are a family caregiver, your focus is on caring for someone you love and making their life more comfortable and bearable. Day in. Day out. You might get some help from other family members, but while helpful, the responsibility often falls on you to make all the decisions and provide the care.
You are preparing the meals, maybe bathing and dressing a parent, cleaning as you go, and let’s not forget transporting the senior to doctor appointments, doing the grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, tracking when prescriptions need to be taken and when to reorder – the list goes on!
Being a family caregiver can be very rewarding. Your relationship with the loved one you are caring for can grow amazingly close. But the continuous responsibility can also take its toll on you, your relationship with your loved one, and other family members.
It’s a lot of work being a family caregiver and unfortunately, your needs can quickly become overlooked.
When stress makes it hard to laugh
It’s common for family caregivers to develop a special bond with the loved ones they care for. They can share great memories and spend precious moments laughing. Laughter is important in helping an elderly person to live a better quality of life. But it can be difficult for a family caregiver to continuously be cheerful and help bring laughter into a senior’s life.
This is especially true when the senior is dealing with a disability. The focus is on caring for the senior and making their life more comfortable and bearable. When the senior has a disability, the stress can be enormous because of added precautions that are needed during care.
As feelings of regret, resentment, and other emotions build up over time, thee pressure from the responsibility of care could strain family relations beyond what the family ever envisioned. That pressure can make it very difficult so that even the most even-tempered caregiver finds it hard to be cheerful and good-humored.
When a family caregiver needs a break
Whether provided full time or part time, caregiving is a job. Like every job, breaks are a necessity to re-energize and maintain a positive outlook. This is true even for the closest of people. While caregiving can bring a family provider closer to the senior recipient than was ever imagined, there is a lot of work and stress in the job. To relieve stress, the person who provides care needs to take breaks.
3 ways to help give a caregiver a break:
Ask another family member to help.
While this might seem obvious, often others in your family misinterpret your needs. Although you have agreed to provide care and most of the time you enjoy being a caregiver, you can’t provide care 24/7. Make is clear you still want to be the primary caregiver, if this is what you want, but that you need help.
When asking for help, provide a plan for how your family might step in to give you a break. Remember to be flexible with their schedule and consider getting help on easier days. Your family will be more willing to help if they are not put in a stressful situation and overwhelmed.
Find a senior daycare or community center that provides activities.
Seniors want to remain as active as possible and senior daycare or community centers offer activities throughout the day that can work well for seniors with certain disabilities. Activities can vary widely from card games, to arts and crafts, and to senior-level exercise sessions.
You may be able to bring your senior there during an entire week, for certain days of the week, or for a specific part of the day. Check with the facility’s schedule to see their policies. In addition to activities, these facilities often offer transportation, meal plans, and oversight to help reduce your worry.
Hire a personal caregiver.
Personal caregivers can be hired for various time durations, such as one day to multiple days in the week and to overnight care. They offer a variety of services for taking care of your loved one. Additionally, you will have more flexibility with your schedule from week to week compared to adult day care and senior centers. Plus, a personal caregiver can assist your senior in the location they reside.
With proper help caring for your senior loved one, you can take the time off you to handle your own personal needs. When you get the breaks, you are less likely to be overly stressed from the responsibilities of caregiving and more likely to provide the laughter and good temperament that your loved one needs.
If you would like more information about how Because We Care can help provide a break to a family caregiver, contact us at 770.385.0300.