Caregiving can be rewarding. It comes with a sense of fulfillment and purpose. But it’s by no means easy. Your emotions can swing back and forth from resentment to guilt to sadness. Not to mention all the tasks you need to carry out.
Every caregiver reaches a point where they need outside help regardless of how well-organized they are. Caregiving is not a job for one person. While it may be that way, in the beginning, things change. Your loved one’s condition changes, necessitating new medical and physical demands you’re not equipped to provide. Or, the emotional and mental burden may simply become too much.
Seek help as soon as possible. Wait too long, and you risk burning out. Here are the signs that it’s time to get outside help.
- You feel depressed
- Struggling with anxiety
- You become irritable
- You gradually neglect your own needs and personal responsibilities
- Have trouble sleeping
- You’re tired all the time
- You start drinking or overeating to cope
If you ignore these early warning, the signs become increasingly severe. They include
- Complete neglect of non-caregiving responsibilities
- Lack of focus
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness
- Compromised immunity
- Constant fatigue
- Increasing anxiety
- Damaged interpersonal relationships
- Loss of interest in your career
So, what do you do when you notice these signs?
Start by creating a list of needs
To get the right help, come up with a list of requirements. In other words, what can others do for you to ease the burden? Break down the list as follows:
- Medical needs: insurance, appointments, medications
- Household needs: cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, paying bills
- Social needs: Someone to keep your loved one company
- Personal needs: eating, bathing, grooming, dressing
When the list is complete, the next step is to seek help.
Enlist help from family and friends
Family and friends can step in and help with errands, meals, personal care, medical appointments, and keeping your loved one company. Find a way of taking these breaks during the week. Asking friends and family for help can be hard but don’t shy away from it.
Have a one-on-one conversation with a family member or friend and be specific about how they can help based on their skills and schedule. For instance, you can ask, “I need a break on Thursdays; can you be here from 2 to 4 in the afternoon?”
Respite care and adult care services
Friends and family won’t always be available when you need them. Thankfully, you can still get outside help. Respite care services and adult day care programs offer professional caregiving services for a given period, allowing a family caregiver to take some time off and take care of themselves.
The cost of these services varies from one center to another depending on the skill level of the staff and the range of services offered. In-home respite services are the least expensive. The cost increases with the need for additional services such as medical care and physical or speech therapy.
Using these services gives you time to recharge, which is essential for you to be the best caregiver you can for your loved one.