Let’s face it. If you’re a caregiver for someone with a serious illness, you’re carrying around a ton of stress. Sleepless nights, physical exhaustion, irritability, feeling overwhelmed by your seemingly endless list of duties. These are just a few of the signs that your solemn responsibility is getting the best of you.
What can you do to thrive as a caregiver? Well, “thrive” may be an unreachable goal, but here’s one practical, achievable way to help preserve your sanity and your physical health.
Get help. Get all you can get. Many caregivers are reluctant to ask for assistance, either because they think they should be able to do it all or because they don’t want to burden others.
The truth of the matter, however, is that most people truly want to help – they just don’t know what to do. So the next time someone says “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” be prepared to tell them exactly how they could help you the most. You may be surprised by the responses you’ll get.
Start by making a list of all the duties you can think of that specific people could take over, then politely ask each one for assistance. This might include staying with your loved one while you go out, running a few errands or taking your loved one for a drive so you can have some quiet time.
Additional tasks others could do include laundry, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, picking up medications, cooking a meal or two or just talking with you about your feelings over coffee. Involve several friends and relatives so each one gets to help but no one gets overloaded.
Another way to get help is by using respite care. You can sign up your loved one for an adult daycare center or you can arrange in-home services, such as having an aide or a nurse come in either periodically or a regular basis. This could give you a chance to go to that movie or attend a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event or concert.
The next time you’re feeling burned out and at the end of your proverbial rope, sit down, take a deep breath and start listing all the ways you are going to get assistance.
Really. It will make a difference.