Finding a balance when you’re a caregiver can be daunting, but this is especially true when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. If caregiver stress is not addressed, it can take a tremendous toll on your physical and mental health, self-esteem, relationships, emotions and mood, and overall well-being. When you’re burned out, you can’t take care of yourself properly, let alone anyone else. That’s why it is so important to take care of yourself, which means finding a balance between your needs and your loved one’s needs.
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to relieve caregiver stress and recapture the hope, happiness, and joy you once felt. The hope is that you will receive at least a little bit of comfort, knowing that you aren’t alone. Most, if not all, caregivers experience frustration, anxiety, sadness, and stress at some point. The key to combatting these distressing feelings is finding a balance. More specifically, making time for yourself, as well as the older adult. A well-rested caregiver, along with help from a home health aide, can make your life a whole lot easier.
Listed below are good ways of finding balance in your life:
Plan! Plan! Plan!
Finding balance in your life is a lot harder than it sounds, but it’s possible if you plan. It is normal to have concerns when it comes to your loved one, especially, if he/she is highly dependent on you. It can become difficult to manage your affairs (i.e. husband/wife, children, pets, appointments, work, cooking, cleaning, etc.) and the affairs of an older adult (i.e. doctor’s appointments, doctors, mental health issues, medications, nutrition, hygiene, and normal aging issues).
The good news is there are easy fixes to your woes – a daily planner and journal. A planner and journal can help you navigate the caregiving world while keeping a firm grasp on your own. So, purchase a daily planner and journal and write down everything.
Lean on Your “Squad”
The next way of finding balance in your life is to lean on your “squad.” Everyone needs a “squad,” right? Of course! Well, when you are the primary caregiver, you need a group of friends or family members that you can lean on. Truthfully, you are probably emotionally and physically spent, which is why it’s so important to surround yourself with people, who can lift your spirit, make you laugh and help you with tasks. Check-in with your friends and family from time-to-time, go for a quick lunch with them, and call them regularly.
Finding Balance- Ask for Help NOW
There is no shame in asking for help NOW. It’s important to understand that you simply can’t do it all – all of the time. If you have a long to-do list, don’t panic – just ask for help NOW – not when the stress becomes too heavy to bear alone. If you need help taking the older adult to a doctor’s appointment, housecleaning, and/or cooking dinner for your family, turn to your friends and family for assistance.
Seek Respite Care
So, you have a lot going on in your life right now and you’re almost at your breaking point, what do you do? As mentioned above, the key is finding balance in your life. How? Well, first by acknowledging that you are doing everything you possibly can for your loved one. Pat yourself on the back, because you deserve it. But, you still need a break from time-to-time – for your own health and well-being. It doesn’t make you a negligent caregiver; rather, it makes you an excellent one. How? Well, when you take a respite, allowing trained home health aides to assist, you return to your loved one with the three “R’s” – relaxed, refreshed, and ready. So, hire a home health aide to care for your loved, and take a respite. In other words, schedule a mini-vacation once a month – you owe it to yourself and your loved one!
Helpguide.org. (2017). Caregiver stress and burnout. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/caregiver-stress-and-burnout.htm
Samaha, G. M. (2017). 10 secrets of a well-balanced caregiver. Agingcare.com. Retrieved from https://www.agingcare.com/articles/family-caregiver-life-balance-137419.htm
Wegerer, J. (2014). How to balance your life as an Alzheimer’s caregiver. Alzheimers.net. Retrieved from http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-05-22/balance-life-as-caregiver/