April 8, 2013

Caregiving to a Parent or Loved One – Part 2

Part 2 of 3 parts

In this part, I will be discussing some of the other aspects of caregiving. If you are the caregiver, there are some things you need to realize to prevent your becoming a casualty of doing your best in giving care. Some of the pressures you need to be aware that caregivers may face.

Fear or Uncertainty: These are not uncommon and can paralyze your actions. As a caregiver for a parent or loved one, you will have concerns about their future and this can cause fear of the unknown. If this is a child of yours, uncertainty can be a real part of what causes you anxiety.

Shift in Roles: When caring for an elderly parent, this is where roles you have grown up knowing are now reversed and this can become very difficult for both parties. The parent can be embarrassed for depending on a child of theirs and the caregiver now. As the caregiver, you are anxious about their health, well-being, and how vulnerable the parent is now. If it is a spouse, this can create unforeseen complications and exact an emotional toll on both parties.

Financial Pressure: If there is not adequate health insurance, doctor bills and other treatment fees can become burdensome, leaving less energy left for work. Caregivers often find themselves facing financial pressures as well.

Isolation: Don't do this. Do not shut yourself off from others, especially friends and others that want to be there for you and your loved one. Find someone to spell you so that you can take time for yourself. If you are caring for a parent, schedule an evening meal out with your spouse or a friend. There are people or agencies that can stay with your friend or loved one while you have time away. With cell phones and telephones, there is no reason that if something happens, contact can't be made. Learn other ways to relieve the stress of the moment, even if doing nothing more than getting exercise, which brings up the next issue.

Little Time Alone: Caregivers can certainly feel isolated, but there are times when you need a little time alone. Some are capable of rejuvenating during this time and others just want the time alone to cry and relieve stress this way. On the other side, it is also possible to feel confused by having little time alone when also feeling isolated. Caregivers have both feelings, and then be very careful as this can sometime cause stress to multiply.

Demands of Constant Care: When a parent or loved one causes a situation where you are caring for them 24/7, this “always on duty” feeling can cause a heavy toll on you as a caregiver. This type of situation can happen at any time and this is one reason to have others you can call on to allow you to get away from this. This is a reason for not waiting for this to happen and bringing people in early to acquaint them and your parent or loved one with each other. Remember, your own health is important and needs repair from time to time.

Guilt: Having this feeling is not a sign of disloyalty, although when felt with caregiver burnout may be hard to dismiss. Often guilt can be part of frustration, but needs to be separated as the feeling of guilt should not be.

Interference by other family members: This creates an overabundance of stress and because you have been selected by the parent or loved one, creates family animosity and ill will among other family members. I have seen this in other families and wondered how the caregiver was able to survive. One caregiver just walked away and said enough is enough. Another caregiver had been wise and had papers allowing her to be the only family member involved. This played out in the courts and the family was split permanently because of a meddling member. Jealousy was a large player in this family even though the parent had clearly stated what her wishes were and the caregiver was doing what needed to be accomplished.

This is only some of the “stressors” that caregivers can feel. Hopefully, this list will give you ideas and relievers that will assist you when, and if, you become a caregiver. Remember that as a caregiver, it is important that you make self-care a priority.

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