Care for Caregivers
Providing care for someone you love is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, and yourselves. The rewards are often not tangible, but deeply felt. It is a true blessing to be able to help someone else who is not able to provide for their own care by ascertaining that their daily needs are met. Often, you are the one who makes sure they are fed, bathed, and dressed. You are the one who provides companionship, soothes their anxieties, and eases their discomfort. You are the anchor that holds the household together. The responsibility can become overwhelming, however, and too often caregivers put their own wellbeing on a back burner. The impacts can be minor at first. Not even noticeable. Just little things. As a caregiver, when do you know that your own health is becoming seriously compromised?
Anxiety & Stress Overload
Stress and feelings of anxiety surrounding the well-being of your loved one can heighten as the disease progresses. Stress can help someone to remain alert, and focused. Long term stress overload, however, is dangerous.
Apathy & Depression
It cannot be stated enough that your mental health matters. Feeling depressed is not a sign of weakness but can be a sign of burn-out. The feeling can be treated.
Caregivers often carry around undeserved guilt, believing that they aren't doing enough for their loved ones. This guilt can make the caregiving role even more stressful than it already is.
One might ask why a caregiver feels guilty when they're doing such a courageous job.
Unlike the grief and mourning that happen after someone has passed away, this "anticipatory grief" begins before the person has died. But the emotions can be similar.
How to take care of yourself
You must take care of yourself first before you can take care of another
Social connection is important for sustaining our sense of feeling cared for, supported, and listened to. Positive interactions from our supportive relationships improve our mood. You might not always have the time to meet physically, but try to stay connected with a select group of people who can keep you strong.
It can help to unplug from your day-to-day duties, when possible. While it is important to stay on top of their care, the constant stream of discussion around your loved one's illness can become overwhelming. Try to unplug as well as use other anxiety coping strategies.
You're not alone
Everyone reacts to anxiety differently, so it is important to take time to recognise what you are going through and understand your own emotions. As difficult as it can be, remember to be kind to yourself. Remember, you are not alone with your feelings and others are going through the same journey. Before you can take care of your loved one, be sure to take care of yourself and reach out to support groups that you can lean into when need be.
Try to write a journal
To start journaling, all you need is a paper and a pen. Keep it private so you won’t have to worry about anyone reading what you wrote. Write for as long as you want as often as you’d like. It has numerous benefits.
It's OK to ask for help
Even caregivers still need the help of others. Don't feel like asking for help means you are not taking care of your loved one. Sometimes asking someone for help will allow you the time to re-energize yourself so you can come back and take care of them better.