WARNING! CAREGIVER NEEDS HELP!

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BY JAMES MILEY

Most caregivers I’ve encountered over the past few years are dedicated, loving, and worn-out! They didn’t notice the gradual, but steady gravitational pull the caregiver role creates. It may have started with picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, or a ride to a doctor’s office or maybe just a quick lift to the grocery store.

Before you know it, you may be involved in this scenario on a weekly, or daily basis. The time and duties required, change. There is more of them, and now the duties need to be categorized and chronologically completed. That simple ride to the store has now evolved into numerous trips to various destinations that make-up the elderly’s daytime activities.

Aging, is another word for evolution, evolution just takes a little longer. And we may all evolve in a similar fashion, but aging is as unique as a snowflake. So is your role as a caregiver. The needs for mom can be like night & day when compared to dad’s needs.

Many caregivers place their lives ‘on hold’, physically, emotionally, and spiritually when they assume the caregiver role. One must be observant to the vulnerability the role creates and passes to the caregiver.

Ask yourself if any of the following situations describe how you feel;
• Your social live has been tremendously affected by your caregiving.
• You feel hostility or anger toward the person you care for.
• You’re going on in a ‘no-win’ situation just to avoid admitting you feel you failed.
• You’re not getting daily exercise or fresh air because you can’t find the time, or don’t take the time.
• Your coping methods have become destructive – you’re over eating, under eating, abusing alcohol or drugs
• You are taking your frustrations out on family members.
• You feel you no longer have any time or place to be alone.
• You realize you are all alone – and doing it all – because you’ve shut out everyone who has offered help.
• No matter what you do, it isn’t enough.
• Family relationships are breaking down due to caregiving pressure.
• You can’t remember the last time you laughed or had fun.
• You have neglected your hobbies that aid you in relaxation.
• You’ve neglected your physical appearance.
• Loving and caring have given way to exhaustion and resentment, you no longer feel good about yourself or take pride in what you are doing.
• You refuse to think of yourself because ‘that would be selfish,’ even though you are unselfish 99 percent of the time.

These are the warning signs of overload or burn-out. If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned scenarios, you may need to reach-out and seek assistance from a local support group, such as “Powerful Tools for Caregivers”, a self-help agency, or discuss with a professional.

Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, there will be nothing left for anyone else!