Being a caregiver for an elder relative, friend, or spouse can be a taxing and emotionally draining responsibility. Depending on the needs of the person you are looking after, taking care of them can quickly become overwhelming, especially when it feels like you don’t have any support or you’re unsure of how to handle a complex situation. To make things even more complicated, there is often a long history between caregivers and those they watch after, with old tensions that can bubble up to surface and make things even more difficult than they already are.
One of the best ways to start managing the stress of caregiving is remembering that you yourself also need your own personal care. Even though a caregiver may be mobile, able to drive, and have their life in order, it can be extremely taxing dealing with the stress of caring for someone who does not have those same benefits. But that’s ok! It’s perfectly healthy and in fact critical to acknowledge the difficult task of caregiving. And it’s also ok to feel stressed, frustrated, irritated, or burnt out.
It can be difficult to acknowledge your own needs while acting as caregiver for someone with much more acute health or mental issues. “How can I be upset about this issue when my elder relatives issues are so much greater than mine?” This line of thinking can make the stress of caregiving much worse than it has to be.
However, there are resources for caregivers and those with elder relatives and friends. Support groups can provide a social place where you can associate with people who understand the stress of caregiving like you do, without judgement. Asking for help from another relative or friend for a few days a week can also greatly relieve the unrelenting stress. It’s important to remember that although it can oftentimes feel like the stresses and pressures of caregiving are yours and yours alone to deal with, this does not have to be the case.
One of the roles of a Geriatric Care Manager is managing caregiver stress and workload. At Senior Steps, we not only focus on the issues of each individual client and their specific needs, but we also reconcile them with the needs of their family, friends, and caregivers. Our Geriatric Care Managers can help with caregiver support groups, can arrange home health aids to ease the workload, and can even make many of the impromptu errands that seem to come up so often when caring for an elder.
If you or someone you know is a caregiver for an elder relative or friend, and you’re feeling close to burning out, feel free to call us at Senior Steps for a free consultation!