Special thanks to our guest blogger, Joseph Perlow, for this contribution!
You are the caretaker of someone you truly love and for a while you were happy and excited about the opportunity to provide the care. But, recently you noticed a change in your feelings. The responsibilities, originally a source of fulfillment and satisfaction, has slowly morphed into an inconvenient chore.
You may find that many times you walk away feeling physically\ and mentally drained- possibly even experience negative feelings towards your loved one.
Many care takers go through this and begin to have guilty thoughts such as, ‘how can I be so selfish?’, or ‘If I truly love this person how can I feel this way?’
Elisha Beard- Supportive Services supportive services coordinator at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging explains the phenomenon, “Unlike the Energizer™ bunny — it goes and goes and goes — caregivers’ batteries do run down and when they do, caregivers need respite.” I.e. you can be a truly compassionate and caring person and still have these negative feelings.
We all are human beings with physical and emotional needs, and being constantly on the look-out for our loved ones is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. It is perfectly normal and the fact that a person is cognizant that they are getting worn out is a positive sign.
Respite care- i.e. handing over the reins of care temporarily to take a break form care taking- may be a hard thing to do. Delegating to others- is always difficult as we are always worried about the level of care they will be provided with. But, using respite care is of upmost importance and fundamental for the long term success of the care takers.
If the appropriate steps are not taken, “burn out”, is likely to occur adversely effecting other areas of life and relationships. The feelings of frustration, anger and isolation stemming from “burn out” will certainly spill over to their spouses/ loved ones lives.
But, even more importantly- the person who suffers the most is the one receiving the care. As negative feelings towards the person increases their capacity to truly help them will decrease. Their loved one may even perceive those negative feelings!
To avoid the above-mentioned situations and to do the truly compassionate thing one must know their own needs and times they need to take a break. If done correctly- not only are they taking care of themselves- they are ensuring the appropriate care of your loved one as well.
After they come back from the respite they will be refreshed, recharged and enthusiastic and be able to provide care in a way they truly want and feel. They will have a sense of renewal and remember all the aspects of the responsibility’s that make it so rewarding and satisfying!