It goes without saying that you do need to take care of yourself. Probable reasons that well-meaning friends do make these comments is that they see that you are often
- Obviously carrying a “big load” both physically and emotionally;
- working continuously with little or no assistance.
“Take Care” Advice is given with Good Intentions
This “advice” you receive from your friends and non-participating family can be irritating, but they do usually make good points. You can
- hit the wall,
- suffer burnout,
- injure yourself physically,
- push yourself to the point where you exacerbate a latent disease or physical condition.
If you continue to do everything all the time and do suffer burnout, you will have done no one any good. Least of all for yourself. If you get to the point where you are no longer able to care for your Loved One, then what? What is the Back-up Plan? Most people do not have one.
Creating a Back-Up Plan shows you care
You may have thought, or even said out loud, “ What choice do I have other than continue to care for my Loved One?” You may have already realized that you are in fact pushing yourself too hard. But, this is your Mom or Dad or Spouse that you are caring for, and you love them to the core. You already have determined to do whatever it takes to make sure that they get proper care.
They want to remain at home and you want them to stay at home if at all possible. Therefore, you are willing to push yourself beyond all reasonable measures to make sure that this in fact happens. You have just accepted that it might take a hit to your own emotional or physical well-being.
You may think that you are more qualified to provide the care that your Loved One needs than anyone else. Not because of your tremendous medical knowledge or caregiver training, but just simply because you love your Mom or Dad or Spouse more than anyone. Because of your deep seated feelings for your Loved One, you will undertake extreme measures to make sure that they receive the proper care.
Sometimes Family Caregivers “experiment” with other caregivers who could include other family members or paid caregivers. Later they realize that these substitute caregivers did not have their Loved One’s interest at heart to the same degree.
Your experiment may have gone something like this:
- You realized you needed help;
- You got some help;
- It didn’t work out. (experiment failed)
So, you just went back to doing everything yourself. You reason that “This work is taking a toll on me, but Momma needs me. I Love her, so I can do it better that anyone! So, I will keep on doing it.”
This line of thinking is prevalent, in various degrees, among many Family Caregivers. Some are willing to accept assistance earlier in the process than others. However many push themselves way past the point of reasonableness.
It’s time to Evaluate
When one of the following things happen, it is time to reevaluate your insistent stance of doing everything all by yourself:
- One or more close friends (with no financial agenda) tells you that it is time to get some help;
- A medical professional notices that you are stressed, strained, and in over your head and tells you you should get some help;
- When you are having problems sleeping or concentrating on simple tasks;
- You are stressed to the point that you are extremely short tempered and moody with the ones you love;
- When you are having problems at work because you are spending all free time and some work time either worrying about your Loved One or making calls to check on them.
These are just a few clues. When any of the above ‘Whens’ happen, it is time to realize that YES, in fact, you do need to get some help. It may seem to you that the helpers that you recruit to help Momma can’t (in your opinion) do as good a job as you are doing. However, it may be time to make the jump to seek outside help anyway.
Do your homework
I’m not suggesting that you recklessly make the decision to allow others to come in who don’t know what they’re doing. Neither am I suggesting that you bring in professionals without substantial vetting and orientation. However, if you provide the direction that your substitute caregiver needs, your Loved One will receive the care they need. You will now have the time to Take Care of you. This means you can rest, rehabilitate, and get back into the flow of your life.
You can relieve apprehension about having others come in by acting proactively to eliminate many of the problems that could occur. Identifying problem areas for substitute caregivers allows you to “nip them in the bud” by. Letting them know the proper way to perform each task relieves you, them AND your Loved One.
We want to Help YOU Help Momma
For a few Tips on ways to structure Momma’s home environment so that a substitute caregiver can come in, step in your shoe’s, take care of Momma and not miss a beat, download the attached TIP Sheet entitled “How to Orientate Substitute Caregivers”. It will get you started with the process of teaching a substitute caregiver the things they need to know to take great care of your Momma and provide some relief for you.
We wish you the best in your continuing efforts to be the best Family Caregiver that you can be. Thank You for all you do to help take care of the Loved One in your life.