Today I Learned...
- As a new caregiver there are many challenges that may lie ahead, but there are strategies to combat burnout
- Adapting to this new role will take time, be patient and practice self-care strategies
- Accepting and acknowledging when I need help is an essential part of being a good caregiver
f you're a new caregiver, you know how hard it can be to maintain your sanity. You're so focused on taking care of your loved one that you forget to take care of yourself! We get it.
But it's important to remember that you need to take care of yourself too. And we're here to help.
How can I maintain my sanity as a caregiver?
As a caregiver, you're likely to face many challenges. Taking care of someone can be difficult for anyone, but when the person you're caring for is also your aging parent or loved one, it can be even more challenging. So, how can you manage to stay sane?
Here are 5 tips to help you maintain your sanity as a new caregiver:
1. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
You may be in a place where you feel overwhelmed and don't know what to do or say. You're not alone. If this is the case, don't wait too long to seek help—whether it's from friends or family, support groups, or professionals.
Getting help from a counselor for your mental health is an excellent way to maintain sanity as a new caregiver. If you are having trouble sleeping or experiencing anxiety, a counselor can help you cope with these issues and feel more at ease.
Another great way to maintain sanity as a new caregiver is to get help from home care agencies. Don't burn yourself out by trying to do it all alone. Hire home care agencies to help with certain tasks or watch your loved one for a few hours so that you can get out of the house.
Learn about respite care and how you can take a break from caregiving when needed most:
2. Be prepared for family friction.
Expect some friction from family members having an opinion on how you care for your loved ones. It's important to remember that everyone has the right to express their feelings, but if it gets too heated or starts to affect your ability to care for your loved one, then it might be time to step back and take a breather.
If they start offering unsolicited advice, have a plan in place for how you will respond. A good rule of thumb is that if someone else isn't willing to pitch in or help with caregiving, their opinion on the matter shouldn't necessarily be taken into account.
Check out these books and resources to help with navigating family relationships and disagreements as a caregiver:
3. Acknowledge the role reversal.
If you are caring for an aging parent, then throughout most of your life it was the other way around: he or she took care of you. But now this has changed, and they need you to look out for them. It’s a big transition and makes it difficult to maintain your sanity.
Here are some tips to help you acknowledge this change:
- Find ways to make caregiving more enjoyable for both of you. Such as, playing games together or going on walks in the park.
- Keep a journal to help you process your feelings about taking on this new role in life. Write down how it feels when you’re frustrated with your parent’s behavior (or vice versa), and use those feelings as motivation to keep going when things get tough.
- Learn as much as possible about their situation so that you can understand it. For example, if they are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, learn as much as you can to better understand what your parent is going through.
4. Accept that it will take time to adjust to this new role.
In the first few months, you'll probably feel like you're juggling a million things at once. But trust us: it gets easier. You'll eventually find your groove and settle into your new role as a caregiver.
No caregiver-caregiver relationship is perfect from the start. As time goes on, both parties will discover what works best for them and how to compromise when their expectations are different.
Change takes time, so be patient.
Learn more tips for first-time caregivers:
5. Be aware of how your loved ones might react.
It's normal for your loved one to have an emotional reaction when you first start providing care for them. While it may seem like they should be grateful to have found a caregiver, their emotions could range from joy to resentment. It's normal for your loved one to feel angry and frustrated because they're no longer in control of their own lives.
Be patient with them and try not to take their emotions personally, even if they lash out at you. It's just the natural consequence of your loved one having trouble accepting this new stage in their life—and the role reversal that comes with it.
Learn how to stay positive while navigating the caregiving process:
When you're a caregiver, you'll be faced with many challenges and setbacks.
But despite everything, you'll find ways to keep yourself sane and balanced, even during the most trying times.
Your role as a caregiver is challenging. But despite these challenges, being a caregiver has its rewards too. It means helping someone who needs it most and forming meaningful bonds with other people in similar situations. These are just two examples of what makes this role so rewarding - there are many more!
And even though there will be many moments when you're stressed out or emotional from caring for someone else (or just plain exhausted), those occasions shouldn't discourage you from continuing down this path. Follow these tips, find a support group, reach out to supportive friends, or find a counselor. But most importantly - find what works for you.
- The Do's and Don'ts of Caregiving
- What Are the Top 5 Qualities of a Good Caregiver?
- Taking Care of YOU: The Importance of Self-Care as a Caregiver
- 6 Topics to Discuss with a New Caregiver