Caregiving can be a stressful, expensive, and emotionally fraught experience. The extra responsibilities associated with caring for someone can be heavy, and other people in your life may not appreciate how much mental, emotional, and physical energy is required from you as a caregiver. There may even be times when you don’t recognize how much it’s taking out of you. Therefore, realizing we cannot do this alone – and should not do it alone – is a healthy starting point. It takes a good support system to be a good caregiver, especially if it is going to be a long-term situation. So, here are five practical ways you can start getting the help you need:
- Enlist Support
Identify all of the close family members and friends who are checking in, asking questions, and showing concern and let them know the impact your caregiving role is having on you.
- Ask for help
Make a list of all of your loved one’s needs and find out if there is anyone who is willing to contribute to meeting those needs. Perhaps you are thinking this is my daughter or my husband, and that you are solely responsible for caring for them, but the full load of caregiver responsibilities can be intense and can put you at very high-risk for burnout. When you muster the courage to ask for help, and once others know what you need help with (specific tasks), you will likely find that most are willing to assist.
- Develop a Care Plan
Develop a plan that outlines who will be doing what and when. Be specific and include the task, which days it will be completed, and by who. Barring emergencies, stick to the care plan.
- Say Yes to ALL Help Offered
Keep the list of caregiving tasks that remain your responsibility handy in the event someone else asks how they can help. When someone offers to help, instead of saying, “I’m fine, I’ve got this on my own,” thank them and show them the list of duties they could help with.
- Tap into Community Resources
Once you have a care plan in place, look at what other resources might be available. Call your local caregiving associations and organizations that provide care to ask if there are programs and resources that could help you and your loved one.
It is easy to become overwhelmed as a caregiver and taking an honest look at your caregiving role and responsibilities is an important first step in getting back on track. Setting realistic expectations and asking for help can go a long way in keeping you healthy and well on your caregiving journey. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give a loved one is to show them you are still able to enjoy your life to the fullest while caring for them.