What is a caregiver?
A caregiver is someone who gives care, as the name states. We are the people who day in and day out care for our young children, our elderly parents, or work in the healthcare system. I am the caregiver to an autistic child and a disabled diabetic mother, so when I share about care giving, I can promise you, I know how many of you may feel.
Giving your all each and every day can spread you very thin. A strain develops on other relationships, romantic or otherwise. You may feel anger and loss. Anger at the disease or the person whom you are caring for. Loss at missed opportunities, at being unable to do things ‘normal’ people do every day. These are normal feelings and you should not berate yourself for them. No matter the disease, caring for someone for twenty four hours a day will take its toll.
Take A Break.
Taking a break from your care giving is essential if you want to live a productive life. You will literally feel at times as if you are losing your mind. Exhaustion, both mental and physical opens a doorway to other feelings that undermine the self esteem and confidence of caregivers. Each day you should find at least an hour to devote to yourself and no one else.
You may wonder how to find even an hour. Take it. Do not go through your daily routine and beg yourself for an hour, then point out reasons why you cannot give it to yourself. Put your foot down to everyone in your household, including the person you are caring for. This is your time and no one else is to bother you, except in an emergency. There are some people being cared for who will make an emergency, but if you know that is the type of person you are giving care to, stand strong.
When To Seek Help.
Sometimes, we find ourselves caring for people who take advantage of us. If you are in that situation, it is time to seek help. Either by looking for a support group, talking to a therapist, or by possibly looking for a facility where older people can live with constant medical care. There is no reason to feel as if you are a slave or to let all of your relationships suffer.
With children, parents can work harder to teach them that their actions are wrong, if the child is using their health as a path to get their own way. With adults, it is up to them to change. If things become too strained, a health care facility may be the best option. These days, health care facilities are not the institutions of old. People are no longer strapped to their chairs or beds or left without care for hours on end. Activities and quality of life programs are in place to prevent neglect.
When you are a caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself, first. You deserve the same quality of care that you give each day.