Does the Caregiver Need Support?
Caregiving is seldom a planned event. One day you are going along in life, planning daily activities and family trips, the next day or week, you are slowly or suddenly drawn into the needs and responsibilities of caring for aging parents or another loved one who can no longer care for themselves. Thing like providing transportation, making meals, going to doctor’s appointments, finding a wheelchair or shower chair all the way to bathing and changing clothes or finding a nursing home or in-home care become part of your life. Caregiving is something each of us will face at some time in our lives. But it calls us to dig deep into who we are and where we find our strength.
There are many aspects of caregiving. Will it be short-term or long-term? In home or facility? How in-depth are the caregiving needs and who will be responsible? What is the cost of care and how will it be paid for? Are there others who will help? Will this affect my family life? Can I protect the dignity of the care-receiver? How do I complete this task with no regrets? The paperwork, decision making, your relationship with the person who needs care …. On and on, and somewhere down the list is the question: And how can I survive being a caregiver?
Self-Care in Caregiving
Because the task can be overwhelming! And in my own experience and my years as a hospice bereavement counselor, I found that self-care is a major key to surviving as a caregiver. It may feel selfish to think of taking time for yourself when someone you love needs you so much. You may experience guilt about emotions you feel such as exhaustion, frustration, isolation, anger, and even jealousy as you see others going on with life. Self-care includes carving out time to get out of the situation, even for a short time; bringing in help, whether friends, family, or professional, sooner than later; and doing small simple things like buying yourself flowers or taking a long, hot shower. Self-care can be critical to the well-being of all involved. It is also important to find a safe place to share those feelings and thoughts where you know you will not be judged and you can sort through the myriad of issues involved in caregiving. This where working with a counselor familiar with the caregiving role can help.
“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.”
― Tia Walker, from “The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love” by Peggi Speers
There are only 4 kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”