Looking after a relative can be extremely challenging, especially if you are juggling other commitments simultaneously. Family caregivers can often burn themselves out because of the stress and responsibility that comes with looking after their parents. This is often because caregivers tend to forget about taking care of themselves. Self-care is placed last.
Feeling isolated, helpless or resentful may suggest that you may be overloading your workload. This can happen completely unintentionally. Perhaps you started out by taking care of a few tasks which steadily increased before you had even realised. Whatever the reason may be, below are some ways you can make sure to take care of yourself whilst also caring for an older adult.
It is a good idea to create a list of what tasks are required. Rank these according to what you believe is important for you to do personally and what can be delegated. Next, make a list of what is important to you. In other words, protect time so that you can spend it with your spouse, children and friends.
There may also be times where there are disputes between other family carers or between you and your relative. This can add to your feelings of stress. Use constructive communication such as “I feel angry/upset” rather than “You made me angry”. This is less likely to cause the other person to become defensive. Further still, make sure to listen and respect how others may be feeling too.
Joining support groups can be extremely beneficial for people who are caring for their parents and older adults. They provide a safe environment for you to share your feelings or concerns. Online forums can provide the same opportunity and enable you to connect with others in a similar situation. In this way, members can advise each other on what they have learnt whilst caring for their loved one.
Remember your own health
Family carers often report sleep deprivation and having poor eating habits. However, this may lead to them suffering from health problems of their own such as depression and exhaustion. It is important that you recognise the warning signs, such as irritability and low mood, and make changes. Ensure you are getting enough sleep and also, make sure to exercise regularly as this will help to reduce tension and increase your energy.