When done in the right way, caring for a loved one can be rewarding and bring pleasure to both you and the person you are caring for. Being calm, relaxed and taking the time to really connect with others each day can release hormones that boost your mood, reduce stress and improve your own physical health.
At times though, caring for an ailing parent, child or other loved one can also be overwhelming and isolating. These tips can help you get the support you need while caring for someone you love in a way that benefits both of you.
ACCEPT YOUR FEELINGS
Caregiving can evoke a wide range of emotions, both good and bad. You may feel anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness or grief. It is important to acknowledge, understand and accept these feelings. They don’t mean that you love your family member any less, they simply mean you’re human.
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Talk to someone you can trust and confide in.
DON’T TRY AND DO IT ALL
You can’t do everything on your own and will need help from family, friends and health professionals. Ensure you receive support as well to prevent burning out. Before asking for help though, take some time to write out all the caregiving tasks required so you have a clear understanding of your family member’s needs. Then determine which tasks you can manage and which you’ll need help with.
ATTEND TO YOUR OWN NEEDS
In order to maintain your capacity to care for others, you must also care for yourself. Avoid becoming distracted, burnt out or overwhelmed by paying attention to your own emotional, social, recreational and physical needs. Take some time to visit friends, keep a journal, exercise regularly, pray or meditate, maintain hobbies or join a social club. Watch out for signs of anxiety or depression and seek professional help if needed.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF COMMUNITY SERVICES
There may be services in your local community able to assist you with your care giving responsibilities. These may include transportation services, personal care, day center activities, health care services and meals programs. Contact your nearest seniors center or local Council for information, referrals or suggestions. If your loved one has a particular disorder, you may also seek support from their relevant advocacy group.