With the daily demands life puts on us, it is stressful to provide comprehensive daily care to elderly parents when one or both parents are not as independent anymore.
It’s usually the daughter caring for her elderly mother or father. The family caregiver can become mentally and physically exhausted, irritable and resentful.
Just like our own pool of physical energy, the mental energy required to provide care to a loved one has a limit. When it becomes very stressful to see a loved one struggling with independence, sometimes with high demands, at the end of the day it can be exhausting. There’s only so much energy you can give…it is not an unlimited resource.
• Waking up tired and looking forward to going back to bed?
• Having trouble concentrating or staying focused?
• Feeling helpless or more emotional than you expected?
• Not seeing friends that you used to see regularly?
• Short-fused and reacting with anger much too easily?
These can be quick indicators that you are fatiguing both mentally and physically and that you could be at the end of your rope.
So what can you do about it?
I’ve summarized a few tips for you that, if implemented, will guarantee you some effective relief.
• Accept some help — consult professionals like Nurse Next Door and see if a caregiver would be appropriate for your family situation. A compassionate caregiver provides much needed help with hands on care, homemaking, etc. to help family members avoid physical and mental burnout, as well as easing of the associated guilt of not being able to do everything. This also allows families to spend the actual quality family time together in the limited time we all have these days.
• Take care of yourself — how many times have you read that a full sleep, exercise, good nutrition, and relaxation are the keys to feeling great? That’s because it works! Too many of us read this info and then forget about it five minutes later because we’re too busy to act on it. Stop! Prioritize! Take a look from a higher view, where it’s easier to observe what’s really important in the big picture.
• Have realistic expectations — be realistic about what you expect of yourself. We can’t always be everything to everyone. In a family caregiving sense, this is where a lot of people get into trouble. An elderly parent may make comments about how the adult child “should” be providing the care, without considering the exhaustion it may be bringing on. You have to be confident enough to say when enough is enough.
• Try to look at it from the aging loved one’s perspective. Losing independence and being faced with major changes as an elderly senior is very daunting. The idea of being forced to move from one’s longtime home is very distasteful. Consider these types of fears when in conversation.
Any one of these tips on their own can provide much relief, but used together in combination they become much more powerful.
It may be better to burn out than to fade away, and it’s even better to avoid burning out or fading away!
Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Cowichan@NurseNextDoor.com