Who Cares For the Caregiver?

As a caregiver, you are faced with the daily challenge of providing your loved one with additional help.

The Struggle

Sons are not supposed to find their father trying to shave with a hairbrush. But they do.

Daughters are not supposed to find their mother hiding used adult diapers in her purse. But they do.

A wife caring full-time for her husband is not supposed to think maybe he would be better off dead. But she does. All too often – so does he.

The Daily Care

Oxygen masks, oxygen tanks, oxygen tubes, suction aspirators, nebulizers, blood pressure kits, catheters, ostomy bags, glucose meters, insulin pumps, lancing devices, blister packs. Day after day.

Changing, cleaning, wiping, dressing, undressing, transferring, lotions, meds, cooking, shopping, doctors. Week after week.

A woman caring full-time for her husband told me, “When the love begins to turn to resentment I will know it is time to put him in a nursing home.”

Feeling Burned Out

Resentment. Burnout. Hitting the wall. Are you there?

You may be feeling… physical exhaustion? Emotional exhaustion? Withdrawal? Stress? Resentment? Depression? Irritability? Can’t sleep? Can’t get out of bed in the morning? Can’t eat? Don’t care what you eat? Can’t concentrate? Your own immune system letting you down? Reclusive? Put your own needs last on your list? Lose interest in things that used to interest you? Ready to give up? Suicidal?

These are all warning signs.

You may be the “designated” caregiver but that has never meant that if you don’t do it, it won’t get done right. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to let go of even just one hour a day. That’s an hour a day all for you to take care of you. Use it. Do something good. Take time for yourself.  Be a caregiver. To you.

Putting Yourself First

Get out of the house before it becomes a prison. Be intentional about getting active! Walk. Exercise. Do yoga. Mediate. Call your friends and talk about anything except caregiving. Prepare a healthy meal just for you. Better yet, go to your favorite restaurant and let them prepare a meal just for you.

Look in the mirror and promise the person looking back, “I love you and I’m going to take care of you.”

If you can keep that promise, you will be able to look into the eyes of the person you’re caring for and say, without resentment, “I love you and I’m going to take care of you.”

You’re Not Alone

Caregiver burnout is common but you are not alone! If you’re facing any of the warning signs above, visit the list of resources below for advice on taking care of yourself while you take care of others.

Caregiver Stress: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Coping as a Caregiver

Caregiver Support & Help

Caregivers: Life Changes & Coping Strategies

Provided by guest author William McDonald