As a family caregiver, you're doing a difficult - but quite rewarding - job.
It is critical to be realistic about both your loved one and yourself, and to balance the needs of both with the demands of the rest of life.
Therapy can help you deal with the extraordinary challenges you face ...
Many caregivers find therapy offers a way to deal with the stressful, negative aspects of caregiving and can give a new, more realistic outlook.
Therapy can provide a private setting for you to express your feelings, needs, and concerns.
A therapist can help put a healthy perspective on the caregiver's situation that allows you to devote your best efforts to the loved one for whom you are caring, while making sure you take the very best care of yourself.
If you are a family caregiver, consider the following suggestions and think about which ones you can put in place to help ease tension and minimize feelings of stress:
- Set manageable expectations and limits for yourself. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, and honest about what you want to do and don’t want to do.
- Although it's difficult, try not to compare the way your relationship used to be with your loved one and the present-day circumstances. Stages in life as well as stages in relationships can be meaningful on their own.
- Ask for and accept help! Oftentimes, people want to be useful, but may not always know what to do. Let other family members and friends know what they can do to share in the responsibility of caregiving. Don't forget to consider asking people who live at a distance, as well as neighbors and people from faith-based groups or clubs to pitch in to help.
- Maintain or establish social interaction with friends and other family members. Isolation can further increase feelings of stress. Having the chance to have fun, laugh and focus on something other than your caregiving responsibilities can help you keep stress at bay and maintain emotional balance.
- Remember that there's room for feelings such as sadness, grief and/or loneliness to be present along with other more joyful emotions. When you do feel down, develop realistic assessments. Consider seeking the help of a therapist to help you sort out your feelings and deal with your concerns about troubling issues.
- If the person you are caring for has dementia, avoid overly stimulating environments since that can add to their anxiety and end up increasing your stress level.
- If you experience any signs of depression - like extreme sadness, trouble concentrating, withdrawal or hopelessness - don’t delay in getting professional help for yourself. Depression is a serious, but very treatable condition. If left untreated, depression does not "just go away," instead, the symptoms progressively worsen and can even become debilitating. Click here for information about depression, including a more detailed list of commonly experienced symptoms and ways to receive help.
If you're caring for a family member or are a professional caregiver in need of someone to talk to ...
Click the red marker for contact information or driving directions to Pamela Little Counseling from Google's website.