The demands of caregiving can sap your energy and psychological well-being. An interview published on the American Psychological Website reveals that since caregiving a parent usually occurs in the context of a long, and often complex relationship, knowing how to care for yourself while caring for a parent is essential to prevent burnout.
Four key ways to reduce the stress linked to parental caregiving are described below.
1 – Delegate Responsibility to the Care Receiver
Take a step back and honestly assess which parts of self-care can still be left to your parent. It might be managing his/her own medications or food prep, keeping track of appointments, or performing his/her own shopping. Let your parent participate in self-care as much as possible, so long as it will not cause him or her to sustain injury. Staying as active as possible supports “brain health” and enables your parent to retain a sense of independence and dignity. Moreover, it lessens your burden, and reduces your risk of burnout.
2 – Involve Other Family Members and Paid Caregivers in Providing Assistance.
Especially if you are the “caregiver type”, your family might have become used to you doing all the caregiving, and they might not even recognize that you need help. Tell family members directly that you need assistance with particular tasks, and then involve them in those caregiving activities. This gives family members who don’t intuitively know how and when to offer their assistance a chance to participate in the caregiving process.
Depending on your parent’s health insurance and health circumstances, you may be able to acquire the services of a paid home health aide.
3 – Make Self-Care a Priority.
As a caregiver, it is crucial that you take proper care of yourself. Often, caregiving becomes so overwhelming and all-encompassing that the caregiver neglects his/her own needs. Realize that one of the best thing you can do in your role of caring for your parent is to care of yourself! Getting sufficient sleep, eating three balanced meals, exercising, and taking time to get out and to socialize will make you more able to be a happy, effective caregiver.
4 – Learn to Recognize “Caregiver Guilt”
As a caregiver, there are times when you will need to limit the amount of time, energy, and/or financial resources that you can devote to your parent’s caregiving. Feeling guilty about such a decision can lead you to act in a mean or hostile manner – even when unintended. Consequently, you may feel you need to overcompensate to make up for expressing feelings of resentment – setting you up for a never-ending cycle of guilt, expressions of resentment, and overcompensation.
Reviewing the guilty feelings with a therapist or uninvolved party can help you recognize when you are feeling inappropriately guilty.
In conclusion, it is important to be mindful of your own well-being, so that you may continue to be mindful of the well-being of your loved one who relies upon you!