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Caring for the Caregiver

Thursday June 26, 2014 - Jennifer Prell
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Parents take care of us when we’re young. They make sure we have a clean home, eat right, stay safe and have the help we need to live good lives. However, in later years, there may come a time when the roles are reversed. When this happens don’t lose yourself.

 

As adult children, we only want the best for our parents, typically stepping into the role of Caregiver without a second thought, and doing whatever’s necessary to ensure they’re taken care of.  Caregivers take on many new roles such as chef, home keeper, chauffer, handyman, accountant, nurse and personal assistant. These new duties can feel overwhelming, burdensome and may even overpower the rest of your life— especially when you focus on taking care of everyone but yourself.

 

To help avoid burnout and distress, Caregivers need to identify their needs, set goals, create boundaries and ask for help when needed. Admitting that you just can’t do it all might be painful but it’s beneficial not only for you, but for others around you.

 

It’s also critically important to take good care of yourself, exercise and eat healthy meals. Don’t use the excuse that you’re too busy – it’s just not good for you. Your health should be your priority not only for yourself, but because if you get sick, what would your loved one do? Take time out of the day for yourself, don’t be afraid to share your feelings and if you can, schedule a vacation. These little things mean a lot and can help you survive your caregiving tasks.

 

It may also help to reach out to an organization that specializes in this field. There are plenty of support groups for Caregivers at local hospitals, senior communities and churches.  Home care agencies who help manage the activities of daily life might be another option, or perhaps utilizing the assistance from a social service agency that offers support and may even have adult day care services.

 

Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of the person you love. Don’t’ lose yourself along the way and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.