Family caregivers are stressed. They spend almost half of each month on tasks such as shopping, meal preparation, housekeeping and transportation. Almost all family caregivers help with dressing, personal hygiene and getting in and out of bed. The average family caregiver spends just over 24 hours a week on caring for another family member.
Advising a caregiver to take care of themselves first has turned out to be rather useless advice. In most cases it has turned out to be unrealistic if not impossible. Better advice would be to figure out if the person being cared for can do more for themselves. Do they need as much assistance as they are being given? Quite often loved ones and patients take advantage of the caregiving offered and do less than they really can because the help is there.
How can caregivers ensure they are providing enough care without providing more care than is needed?
- Ensure safety. The primary job of a caregiver is to ensure that their patient is physically, emotionally, sexually, and financially safe. This doesn’t mean they have to have every whim or desire catered to. Protect your own sanity while keeping your patient safe.
- Set limits. Caregivers should have boundaries beyond which they won’t continue to help when it isn’t needed. Patients can be difficult and refuse to use their own devices such as canes. This doesn’t mean that you should do everything for them if they won’t.
- Learn to say no. You may want to please your loved one so they are happy and that is fine. Waiting on them like a servant isn’t fine.
- Find resources. Many communities will have support groups for caregivers. Find one and attend it.
Caregivers need to learn to let go to a certain extent. Ask for help and expect it. If you are caring for a family member and there are other family members available, they should be expected to help out also. Keeping your sanity as a caregiver is the most important thing. To read more on caregiver issues and how to find peace if you are a caregiver, click here.