A Family Caregiver recently wrote:
“Breaks and Time are easier said than done. Everyone one else is too busy with their OWN time. It’s just easier to not ask of anything. But I can say one thing – I’ll never have regrets. But not having time once in awhile takes its toll. I’ve been in the hospital and in ER a few times very sick.”
This is a great blog post that covers several issues that we see on a daily basis on our Help Me Help Momma LiveCast.
Time Off is Easier Said Than Done
Yes, breaks and scheduled time off are topics that are much easier said than done. Often caregivers are busy every minute of the day caring for their Loved One. Even when their Loved One is sleeping, they are busy preparing for when they get up. People who are not Family Caregivers have no idea the amount of work, stress and intense effort that it takes to care for a declining parent, spouse or for another person that you love.
Family Caregiver Burnout
The problem with providing continuous care for a loved one is that you, the Family Caregiver, can suffer burnout. Burnout is often more than “getting tired” of doing a task and wishing that you could do something else. It can can lead to very real emotional and physical events in our lives. Burnout can also cause caregivers to suffer major healthcare challenges of their own and be sick or even die before the ones that they care for.
It is crucial to take the time you need to care for yourself. However, if you are a Family Caregiver, you know that taking some time for yourself is easier said than done. Having served as a caregiver, I know this to be true. You feel the full responsibility for the care of another person squarely on your shoulders. You take the task very seriously and work intensely as many hours as are necessary. When you are so tired that you feel like you can’t take another step and desperately need a break, you look to see when the replacement Family Caregivers are coming – only to realize, they aren’t coming!
Asking Family for Help
It’s true that sometimes asking family members for help is a futile task. They may claim that they’re too busy or have health challenges of their own. And they may have family issues to deal with or work a full-time job that occupies all of their time. They may be willing to do some things to help but very often their help initiatives are few and far between. Sometimes it is just easier to do it yourself and not ask.
Having said that however, it is worth “another try” in some families. Another person who commented on the Help Me Help Momma Facebook page recently said finally found a way to include remote family in the Caregiving experience. She asked them to perform very specific small tasks and the remote relatives had agreed to do so. The task requested was small enough and specific enough that the remote family member could do it remotely.
The result of this effort was two-fold (1) Even though this was a small task, the fact that the remote family member performed it regularly and efficiently provided some benefit to the local Family Caregiver that was doing literally everything else; and (2) The fact that the Remote Caregiver was willing to contribute any effort actually improved the family relationship and morale. The Remote Caregiver felt that they were now making a difference and this made them feel less guilty and better about themselves. They were able to have better better and more productive conversations with their local Family Caregiver and their declining parent.
Finally, the Family Caregiver (in the above post) stated that they will have no regrets. We have heard this from involved Family Caregivers and have experienced it ourselves. If you are the local Family Caregiver and you are giving heart and soul to the care of a Loved One, you will experience many things on a daily basis that no one else will see hear or experience. You have these memories and will always have them.
They will be your private reward for doing the work that no one else could or would do. Cherish these memories and write them down in a journal so that you can read them and reflect on them even after your Loved One passes away. They will be a blessing and benefit to you for the rest of your life. Thanks for all that you do and your work performed in love for our seniors. You are making a huge difference!
If you are not there already, go to www.helpmehelpmomma.com to view and comment on this blog post. Also, view and comment on the the weekly Help Me Help Momma Live Video at the top of the Help Me Help Momma web page. Thanks for your kind comments to fellow caregivers and for all you do to participate in this virtual caregiver community.