After two weeks of keeping a journal, you should now be able to identify your areas of caregiver stress and the accompanying feelings. Maybe you’ve recorded a long list of issues or maybe you’ve seen a pattern of a few recurring thoughts. Below are examples of common caregiver feelings and possible resources or solutions. A list of helpful links can be found at the bottom of this post.
- I feel resentful because family members aren’t helping so I have to do EVERYTHING. Set up a family meeting. List all the tasks you do and specify the areas where you need help and/or ask family members to identify the areas where they can help. Prepared meals, financial contributions, financial management, respite care, laundry, resource identification…there are numerous ways to assist (see caregiver task list below). Set up a family Google calendar to keep people on track, in the loop, and accountable. If your family has trouble agreeing, hire a geriatric care manager who is experienced in eldercare management.
- I feel sadness/guilt/anger about my loved one’s condition and my role as the caregiver. Counselors and support groups exist at many local organizations and are also available online. Share your feelings with others in the same boat. Vent, empathize, sympathize, and learn from each other. Get more information about your loved one’s condition to help you better cope.
- I feel isolated and lonely, like I don’t have a life. Get respite care so you can do the things you like…attend church, participate in a hobby, get a haircut, take regular walks, and go on vacation. Again, it’s helpful to be specific in your request. For instance, perhaps you’d like to go to church followed by breakfast every Sunday. You’ll need respite care from 8-12 to do this. Can a family member provide care? Can you hire someone? Look into adult day care centers as well.
- I feel helpless and hopeless because I don’t have family to support me. Area Agency on Aging is the place to start. They have a comprehensive list of local resources for everything from home modifications, meals on wheels, medicare/medicaid benefits, support groups, and more. Other options to consider include faith communities, volunteer organizations (some specialize in helping seniors), and home care agencies who can provide professional back-up care.
It’s essential to realize that in order to minimize caregiver stress, support is necessary. That means asking for and getting help. That means you shouldn’t do everything yourself. Make sure you remind yourself of this fact on a regular basis and believe it to be true.
“The healthy and strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it. Whether he’s got an abscess on his knee or in his soul.” -Rona Barrett
Caregiver Task List
Shopping and errands
Transport and advocate role at medical appointments
Laundry and linen changing
Companionship including walks, games, and other activities
Bathing and grooming
- Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families http://www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/info-07-2012/prepare-to-care-planning-guide.html
- Geriatric Care Managers: http://www.caremanager.org/
- Caregiver Stress http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/caregiver-stress/art-20044784
- Alzheimer’s Association http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-caregiver-stress-burnout.asp
- Senior Resources: Maricopa–Area Agency on Agency http://www.aaaphx.org Pinal and Gila County–Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens http://www.pgcsc.org/
- Online Caregiver Community and Support http://www.caregiving.com/