January 31, 2019
As family members, and as friends, many of us are called upon at some time to consider assisting those close to us in connection with an illness/surgery or aging. As we take on those roles, we often feel guilty if we become overwhelmed. According to experts in these fields, it is important to consider the family/friend caregiver’s own needs as well as those who are being helped. Common caregiver issues include:
- Feeling overwhelmed and trapped, by the situation and/or the time involved,
- Feeling like other family members are being abandoned,
- Feeling afraid of dealing with medical issues,
- Feeling as if self-care and other personal issues are suffering, and
- Feeling guilty for feeling any or all of the above!
A recent web posting from AARP (American Association of Retired People) pointed out that family/friend caregivers “have a lot of reasons for not arranging respite for themselves. Among them: guilt, money, being too busy in the present to plan for the near future and reluctance to change their loved one’s routine.” The site goes on to say, “every caregiver needs a caregiver — someone who will care for your loved one for a few hours, days or weeks, so you can take care of yourself.”
Many articles discussing home health care and ‘aging at home’ discuss the need for a plan for the caregiving situation, which addresses these issues. The National Institute on Aging, at this site, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/caregiving, provides several discussions regarding planning for the caregiving situation, as well as finding help when overwhelmed. Another page on the NIA site provides more tips for caregivers needing help taking care of themselves, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/taking-care-yourself-tips-caregivers.
One other site, dailycaring.com, has many resources for the caregiver who is feeling overwhelmed. This link, https://dailycaring.com/how-to-be-ok-with-getting-caregiving-help/ provides specific guidance on encouraging caregivers of older adults to seek help. They conclude with:
“Did you know that getting help will actually make you a better caregiver? That might sound crazy, but it’s true.
If you get help, you’ll reduce stress, cut down your to-do list, and be able to regularly take time for yourself. This is guaranteed to improve your health and mood. When you’re feeling better, you’ll be more patient and caring with your older adult.”
While much of the information here, and online, deal with caregivers for older people, much of the information equally applies to those providing caregiving after injury or surgery. For those caregivers, there are usually specific concerns about dealing with medical issues. While the need for a plan still applies, the caregiver needs to be up-front about their ability and/or willingness to handle issues from bathing to wound care. Professional assistance is available and can be provided for short periods of time.
Just Like Family Home Care is proud to serve the community by providing short and long term assistance, including providing respite care to help the caregivers. As family/friend caregivers need assistance, we stand ready to be part of their team and plan. Most importantly, Just Like Family encourages family/friend caregivers to remember to take care of themselves.