Caregivers often have self-imposed expectations, pressuring them to feel they should be able to handle every situation that they encounter with little or no support or assistance. There is this tremendous pressure to “do it all,” taking care of children and aging parents while maintaining a career and the home. Instead of having a sense of accomplishment, many feel guilty when they run out of the energy needed to handle all the tasks.
- Emotional roller coaster
- Become irritated over small things
- Withdrawal from friends & family
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty getting through a day
- Unable to concentrate
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Feeling overwhelmed or anxious
- Excessive use of alcohol, medications or sleeping pills
- Take care of your own health. First, take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
- Watch for signs of depression. Signs include constant sadness, feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, changes in appetite and sleeping patterns, & trouble concentrating.
- Seek support from other caregivers. Support groups show you, that you are not alone & can offer needed practical information.
- Take respite breaks. Respite care is short-term assistance by an outside provider which will allow you a moment to rest. Also, consider an adult day health service & seek help from family members.
- Accept offers of help. Accepting help from others allows your loved one to spend time with others & for you to have a healthy break. Others are willing and able to help, but they don’t know what is needed. Suggest specific things people can do to help you, such as picking up groceries or driving your loved one to an appointment.
Caregivers are as important as the people they care for. It is important to recognize the signs that you need to take time to care for yourself. Remember you have the right to maintain aspects of your own life that do not include the person you care for. Supporting and protecting your individuality allows you to care for your loved one, as well as, do some things just for yourself.
Resources for Support
• Area Agency on Aging – http://ohioaging.org/area-agencies/
• Caregiver Actions Network – https://caregiveraction.org/
• Employee Assistance Program (EAP) — Ask your employer
• Family Caregiver Alliance – https://www.caregiver.org/taxonomy/term/94
• National Mental Health Association (800-433-5959 or www.nmha.org)
• Your family physician