Due to the aging population, economic difficulties or by personal choice, many families have chosen to walk down the road of aging together. Family caregiving can add stress to the family dynamic and put pressure on the relationship between aging parent and child. The patient may become negative, bossy, stubborn, and overly critical because they have trouble adjusting to the new standard in their lives. Caregiving children may feel frustrated and as though they are not doing enough.
There are many things you can do to relieve some of the anxiety and stress that will come with caregiving. These tips can be applied to any caregiver, as even the professionals have to take a step back and re-group from time to time.
Take a break – Enjoy yourself doing something you want to do. There is no shame in taking time to do something you love, especially if it boosts your own well-being. Part of being a caregiver is taking care of yourself too.
Manage stress – Stress can manifest physically with stomach aches, headaches, and a plethora of other conditions. Stress can also negatively affect your emotional well-being, inducing stress-eating, moodiness, and depression. Find outlets that help you release stress and tension. For some this may be through fitness, others the arts, and some may want nothing more than to get through the last page in the book they have been reading for four months.
Realistic expectations – Some family caregivers start their journey because they believe no one can care for their parent like they can. In many ways this is very true, however medical conditions and needs must be managed. Of course everyone wants to see their parent walk again after a debilitating fall, but this may never be the case. Be careful not to push a parent, or yourself based on expectations.
Give credit where credit is due – It is common place for many caregivers to become frustrated or feel like they aren’t doing a good job. Taking on extra responsibility and allowing your parents to spend the rest of their lives at home is an honorable thing. You may not get everything right, and even when you do, needs can change. Work hard and take pride in yourself, never give up on yourself.
Ask for help – In situations when you need to take care of yourself, or there is a patient medical condition that you need assistance with, ask for help. Aides can be commissioned through programs and facilities to assist in the daily needs of your loved ones. These trained professionals can also help guide you through difficulties and offer helpful tips. Also, there are many caregiving support groups, within your community and online, comprised of other caregivers just like you. These are great places to vent concerns, seek advice, and meet people who are going through the same experience you are.