My mother has often told me that my battle is hers and she is right in many ways. Although I am the one who was diagnosed with lupus, and it is my body and spirit that are literally being affected, she is always right there with me. As my primary caretaker when I am sick, she is the one who sees to my every need and comfort. She is my advocate and primary physician when I am out of the care of nurses and doctors, even while I’m in their care. Did I mention my mom has been a nurse for over 40 years? She is my watch guard and a source of comfort, and I know that this journey would’ve been a lot more unbearable without her. I am sure that I am not the only one who feels this way about the person that takes care of me. Often we overlook the physical and emotional effects that our illness has on our caregiver.
With the unpredictability of the disease and its severity they often put their own health at risk just to ensure that ours is tended to. Below is an article that gives some great advice to caregivers about the importance of being a little selfish and taking part in some self-care. After all it is imperative for you, the caregiver to be healthy enough to be able to take care of your sick loved one. I also want to encourage anyone who has been blessed to have these earthly angels to show your appreciation in anyway that you can. They give their time, energy, money and efforts to take care of you. They are sacrificing so much of themselves for you and it is a very grueling, often thankless job. The amazing part is that they are not looking for your gratitude and praise just for your swift and permanent recovery back to perfect health. Isn’t that completely selfless and beautiful?
Caregiving is rewarding but stressful
Caregiving can have many rewards. For most caregivers, being there when a loved one needs you is a core value and something you wish to provide.
But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. Caregiver stress — the emotional and physical stress of caregiving — is common.
People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:
- Being female
- Having fewer years of formal education
- Living with the person you are caring for
- Social isolation
- Having depression
- Financial difficulties
- Higher number of hours spent caregiving
- Lack of coping skills and difficulty solving problems
- Lack of choice in being a caregiver
Strategies for dealing with caregiver stress
The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
To help manage caregiver stress:
- Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be willing to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week. Someone else might offer to pick up groceries or cook for you.
- Focus on what you are able to provide. It’s normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time.
- Set realistic goals. Break large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. Begin to say no to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday meals.
- Get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. Caregiving services such as transportation and meal delivery may be available.
- Join a support group. A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations. People in support groups understand what you may be going through. A support group can also be a good place to create meaningful friendships.
- Seek social support. Make an effort to stay well-connected with family and friends who can offer nonjudgmental emotional support. Set aside time each week for connecting, even if it’s just a walk with a friend.
- Set personal health goals. For example, set a goal to establish a good sleep routine or to find time to be physically active on most days of the week. It’s also crucial to fuel your body with healthy foods and plenty of water.
- See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver. Don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.
Read the entire article here