Friday, June 27, 2008

Caring for the Caregiver, Part 1

Many of us are ill prepared as a caregiver. When we are busy living our own life, the need to care for a parent or other family member can unexpectedly come upon us.

Being a caregiver is often a tough, draining experience, but it can offer great rewards. The following list highlights a few of the situations or feelings a caregiver may experience.

Physical and emotional:
+ guilt, anger, frustration
+ fatigue
+ depression
+ health problems
+ stress due to limited training and lack of how-to information
+ stress due to amount of time and energy spent

+ complications in the work place
+ loss of job due to relocation or time off
+ reduced work hours due to caring for your loved one
+ increased costs due to daily and/or long-term care

+ stress among family members
+ curtailed activities such as travel
+ loss of friends and relatives who may drop away
+ less personal leisure time

Sometimes a caregiver may desire to run away from the situation, or feel no one understands or cares what they are going through, especially when other family members distance themselves or are silent.

The caregiver may feel like the weight of the world is on his or her shoulders.

Fortunately, a number of options are available that may help ease the stress of caring for a loved one. For example:

1. Expanding their support network
2. Seeking professional help as needed
3. Learning to set priorities
4. Maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health
5. Joining a caregiver support group

Here are a few ideas for now. I will go into greater detail Monday.

Learning to care for a loved one is on-the-job training. Knowing ahead of time we may make mistakes along the way allows us to let go of any guilt we may feel when it happens.

When we live by the golden rule and treat others as we would want to be treated, our time as a caregiver can be a fulfilling experience.

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