There has been much talk in my Internet groups about illness and taking care of family members or friends. It made me wonder who takes care of the caregiver?
I finally realized that is up to the caregiver to recognize that he or she too has needs. One of life's most demanding jobs is taking care of a loved one who is chronically ill. So what can you do, how do you cope? What do you do to stay healthy?
- Know your limits. Accept that you may need help in caring for a loved one.
- Take care of your own health. If you don't take care of yourself you won't be able to adequately take care of your loved one.
- Share your feelings; have someone that you can talk to. Your feelings may run the gamut and include anger, guilt, grief, loneliness and in some instances joy. If you can't share your feelings with family or friends, find professional help. If you are uncomfortable talking about such personal matters one-on-one but still would like to talk about what you are going through, find a group on the Internet. There are thousands of online support groups and networks. The Internet allows you to be anonymous while sharing what you are feeling. Understand that there will be times when you may need to reach out commiserate with those who are dealing with the same or similar issues and problems as you are. The is not weakness, instead it is acceptance, that caregiving is not easy and sometimes you need help in order for you to do your best you can for your loved one, yourself and your family.
- Take some time for yourself. If possible take a weekend, if that is not possible, take a day or even an hour or two for yourself. Do not allow interruptions unless it is an emergency.
- Find support for yourself, family and your chronically ill loved one. You can start with your local church, or library.
- Be hopeful, but accept the nature of the illness.
Look for these and other resources to help you lessen your already stressful schedule.
. Transportation services
. Visiting nurses
. Meal delivery services
. Adult day care
. Hospice care
There are more resources, check then out according to the needs of your loved one and your own needs. You can start with the telephone book to find help and guidance in your area.
And finally, do not be too proud or embarrassed to ask for help.