Family caregivers dedicate so much of themselves to those they care for – both emotionally and physically. It’s easy to become worn down and begin to experience unexpected feelings such as indifference, weariness, and a detachment from the person in your care. Identified as compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress, it may be detrimental to your own wellness but could also impact your ability to be as caring, warm, and nurturing as you should be for the person you’re caring for. Read more
Caregiver stress is inescapable, but realistically, not always a bad thing. They say, “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” But is that true for caregivers? In particular for family caregivers, the level of stress can rapidly worsen and become overwhelming, and if not handled correctly, result in significant health concerns. Read more
Family caregivers give a lot of themselves to the people they care for, which often means leaving behind their own desires and needs in the process. It may seem normal, then, to presume that caregivers would feel good about themselves, with high self-worth and sense of purpose.
However, that is not always the case. Family caregiver guilt is prevalent, and many family caregivers wish they possessed more patience, the answer for all of their loved one’s problems, or the capability to accomplish everything on their own without needing help. They give themselves unattainable and unrealistic goals, which can lead to:
- Feeling trapped
- The desire to get away
- Never feeling good enough
- Heightened stress
- Lack of joy in life
- Lacking good quality time with a senior loved one
- And more
If you have been feeling the effects of family caregiver guilt, taking these actions can be extremely liberating:
- Maintain a realistic viewpoint, knowing that all family caregivers are faced with challenges. We are all human.
- Admit your feelings of guilt along with the particular reason causing it; as an example, “I am feeling guilty because I became impatient with Dad’s repeated questions.”
- Change your focus to a positive outcome. Remind yourself of the joke you told that made Dad laugh this morning, or how much he loved the lunch you prepared.
- Be sure to put aside plenty of time for soothing, pleasurable and gratifying activities: engaging in favorite pastimes and hobbies, journaling, spending time with friends, family and pets, etc.
- Exchange your internal “should have” dialogues with a more encouraging slant: “It is difficult to respond to the same questions repeatedly, and I am doing the best that I can.”
- Find a support partner. To be the best family caregiver you can be means ongoing, scheduled breaks from care to take care of your own needs.
- Follow a healthier lifestyle that includes nutritious meals, aiming for 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night, exercising, giving up smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.
Reach out to San Diego Home Caregivers at (619) 487-9000 for top-rated home care in Point Loma and the surrounding areas that allows family caregivers time to destress and unwind, an integral aspect of effective elder care. We’re available based on your preferred schedule and routine, with as much or as little care as needed, up through and including 24/7 care. Keep in mind that taking the best care of yourself helps you to provide the best care for the senior you love, and we are always on hand to assist!
Many people are trying to juggle various important responsibilities, and for family caregivers, it can feel the same as trying to juggle flaming swords and knives. It’s natural for family members to become overwhelmed and to experience feelings of caregiver guilt when trying to provide the best care for a loved one.
Guilt can show up in so many different ways. You could be feeling like you’re not spending enough quality time with the person in your care. You may be feeling guilty about contemplating a nursing home for the senior. The guilt may arise after the senior’s dementia-fueled repetitions caused you to snap. Or perhaps you feel like you’re not balancing your care well between the aging adult you love and your own children.
When caregiver guilt builds up, try to keep this statement top of mind: You are doing your best, and it’s ok to request help.
Let’s look a little more closely at that statement. First: you are doing your best. You would probably agree, but do you truly believe it? Reminding yourself about the following truths if you’re doubtful might help:
- My loved one appreciates me, even if they can’t or refuse to say so.
- I am doing the best that I can.
- I cannot change or correct the past, but I can control how I feel about it.
- Mistakes will likely happen.
- I am doing enough.
It could be even more helpful to place these and other affirmations on sticky notes around the house, such as on the kitchen counter or a medicine cabinet. And if there’s a specific statement that really speaks to you, utilize the calendar app on your phone to set it as a daily reminder.
Second: It’s ok to ask for help, whether that means professional help through San Diego Home Caregivers, or help from other relatives, your own personal friends, or the senior’s friends.
Try starting by contacting the older adult’s friends. We’ve all heard from well-meaning friends, “Just let me know what I can help with.” But it can be very difficult to actually take them up on that offer. And on the other hand, an older loved one’s friends in the neighborhood may refrain from helping so as not to step on your toes. Contact them and ask for specific help, such as, “Would you come visit with Mom every Monday for about an hour?” You might be surprised to discover how willing people are to help out — they just need to find out what you need.
You could also consider asking siblings or other family members for help. Bear in mind, if you’re able to find help for even a couple of small tasks, you will definitely feel less overwhelmed. Maybe Aunt Ruth can take Mom to her weekly physical therapy appointment, or Cousin Alan can go with Grandpa to church.
If family members live out of town, ask them to help with tasks that can be taken care of over the phone or online, like researching activities for seniors, or figuring out the most cost-effective drug store for the senior’s prescription medications.
The ideal solution, however, is partnering with San Diego Home Caregivers for customized in-home care assistance. We are here to help with services such as:
- Regular respite care
- Planning and preparing healthy meals
- Light housekeeping services and laundry
- Transportation to appointments, shopping and fun outings
- Specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s or other chronic conditions
- Companionship for socialization through conversations, hobbies/interests, exercise, etc.
- And more
San Diego Home Caregivers is here to help you during your caregiving journey. Our trained and experienced home care team can meet a wide range of needs particular to the challenges a senior is experiencing. Our caregiving professionals can make sure your loved one has everything needed, providing you with vital time away for self-care. Contact San Diego Home Caregivers, the leading provider of in home support services in San Diego and the surrounding communities, online or at (619) 487-9000 for more information.