When your loved one has a chronic illness, it can feel like everything is out of your control. While it’s true that you can’t prevent the progression of the disease, you can choose how you respond to this truth.
As their caregiver, the first step you can take towards acceptance of reality is to embrace your role outright. Acknowledge that you will likely be in this role for an extended period of time. Being honest with yourself about what you need to do and what you can accomplish while still being sane will help you to plan and find help where you need to.
Long-term caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint. Oftentimes, new caregivers throw themselves into their new role, quickly leading to burn out. It’s important to take care of yourself and not get lost in caring for your loved one. When you practice self-care and maintain a positive attitude, you are much more helpful to your loved one than if you were to spend all your energy on them.
If you need some help maintaining a more positive attitude, here are some caregiving tips.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to be the “perfect” caregiver. The truth is, there is no such thing. Caregiving is an incredibly difficult and demanding job, and you may fall into the trap of not being “good enough” at it. While it’s a tough job, you are capable of doing it. Your efforts are enough. Practice reassuring yourself that you’re doing a good job, and have confidence in your ability to care for your loved one. Teach yourself to think positively.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Brushing aside feelings like anger, resentment, or sadness is not going to stop you from having them. It will only cause them to bubble up in other ways, such as passive aggressive behavior or health issues. Acknowledging your feelings, even the ones you wish you didn’t have, is important for your mental and emotional health. Your feelings are valid. If you find yourself often overwhelmed by your emotions, you may benefit from seeking professional help.
Know Your Limits
You can’t control your loved one’s ailment, and you can’t avoid the fact that you can’t do it all. Learn to admit that you will need help sometimes. Even more importantly, learn how to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak or a bad caregiver. You will need a whole team behind you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Listen to Your Body
Your body is the most reliable witness to your experience. It will tell you all you need to know about what you’re feeling and what you need. Learn to tune into what your body is telling you. A great way to do this is by practicing mindfulness. You can start simply, by setting aside time every day to take some deep breaths and feel what’s going on in your body. It will let you know if you need sleep, exercise, food, or a friend to talk to. By listening to your body, you can take care of your own needs while caring for your loved one.
Watch Out for Depression
It’s very common for caregivers to experience depression. Therefore, it’s important to learn the signs and symptoms of depression now so you can promptly get help if you need it. If you’re finding yourself losing interest in your passions, crying frequently, eating less or more, sleeping less or more, and experiencing irritability, it might be time to seek professional help. Treatment may include medication, talk therapy, or a combination of both. You might benefit from preventive mental health care by signing up for weekly therapy now before you find yourself burning out.
Maintain Your Sense of Self
Caregiving can consume us, but if it’s your entire identity, you are far more likely to burn out. Keep living your life and do not ignore your personal life. Maintain your friendships and other relationships, pursue passions and hobbies, and set aside time just for you.
Connect With Other Caregivers
Becoming a caregiver can feel lonely if your social circle doesn’t share that experience. It can help to connect with other people who “get it.” You can find support groups in Fort Collins, or you can even join an online community. These are individuals who you don’t have to explain caregiving to. They know the exact type of comfort you need. Having a network that can empathize with you makes a huge difference in helping you to stay positive.
One of the easiest ways to maintain a positive attitude is to focus on the present moment. Ruminating about the past and worrying about the future will not help you. All you have is today, and tomorrow will be here soon enough. There’s nothing wrong with planning ahead, but don’t forget to ground yourself in the present and be grateful for what you have now.
Hire a Home Health Aide
There’s only so much that you can do on your own. Getting outside help for your loved one, even for just a few hours a week, can have a major impact on your attitude and outlook. If you’re looking for a home health aide in Fort Collins, we would love the opportunity to help. Contact Evergreen Home Healthcare for information about our home healthcare services.