As a caregiver, you may find yourself in charge of a host of responsibilities, along with the pressures and challenges that come along with them. It's common to feel overwhelmed, alone at times and drained – both physically and mentally.
When it becomes too much handle on your own, it's important to seek help and support – whether it's from professionals, friends or family. Maybe it's a shoulder to cry on, a relaxing evening with friends, someone to talk to, or one less errand to run.
Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice encourages caregivers not to sacrifice their own physical and emotional needs when caring for a loved one and offers the following suggestions for finding support.
Support from Professionals
- Are you physically unable to take care of your loved one or perform certain tasks? Look for a care facility, home care agency, hospice organization, or in-home aid to help you better care for your loved one.
- Are you experiencing extended periods of sadness that prevent you from performing daily tasks? It's possible that you're suffering from a form of depression. As the result of constant demands, it's not unusual for caregivers to develop mild or more serious depression. Talk to your physician about your feelings, as you may need to seek help from a behavioral health professional who understands the feelings caregivers experience.
- Are you experiencing feelings of anger, grief, guilt, loneliness or sadness and believe you could benefit from sharing your experiences with people who have gone through a similar situation? Look for local or online support groups offered by hospitals, churches senior centers and disease-specific organizations. Also consider online support groups. Support groups offer many benefits, from talking to others who are experiencing similar situations, to complaining to sharing strategies for managing difficult behaviors, to developing camaraderie.
Support from Friends
- Having trouble accomplishing your daily tasks and feeling stress due to your ever-growing to-do list? Turn to a friend and ask for help. Many times, people want to help and mean well but just don't know how. Be specific with your "ask." Whether it's covering for you at your home so you can get a break, running an errand for you or even taking your loved one to a medical appointment.
- Do you feel lonely or need someone to talk to? Call a friend to talk or schedule time to go out for coffee or dinner. Socializing will do wonders.
Support from Family Members
- Do you feel like you're the only one in your family contributing to the caregiving of your loved one? Hold a family meeting and let them know how you feel and how they can pitch in.
- Do you need someone to lean on to help you deal with your emotions? Talk to a trusted family member about how your loved one's illness makes you feel.
At first, it may seem difficult to reach out for help. But once you see the resulting benefits – for you and your loved one – you'll be glad you did.
For more information about support and resources available to caregivers, visit barnabashealthhospice.org and choose "Caregiver Resources."