By Katelyn Millinor, LPC
Each November, we take the time to honor Family Caregivers – those who devote their lives to providing care for their family members or friends who are elderly, ill, or disabled. The demands of caregiving can be challenging, overwhelming, and tiresome. It can also be rewarding and fulfilling. Caregivers often give so much of themselves to their family member or friend. It is important to remember you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.
Common family caregiver experiences may include:
- Tiredness – Most individuals caring for a loved one also work outside of the home in addition to their caregiving responsibilities.
- Depression – The demands of jugging multiple responsibilities or seeing your loved one age or change due to illness or disability can be upsetting. There is no shame in feeling upset or overwhelmed.
- Diminished relationships – Caregiving is not a 9-5 job. A loved one may need care around the clock. The emotional, physical, and time demands of care giving may interfere with other relationships.
- Lack of self care – Caregivers often neglect their own self-care in order to provide for their loved one. This can include not attending medical appointments and not participating in leisure activities.
Caregivers provide for their loved one due to a sense of responsibility, their culture, fulfillment and love. We honor those who provide and recognize the increased difficulty of caregiving during a pandemic as this brings its own unique challenges.
If you are a family caregiver, here are some useful tips:
- Seek support from other caregivers: If you have others that are willing to help try to be open to splitting responsibilities. You do not have to do this alone. Also be sure to check out Family Caregiver Support Groups.
- Increase your own self-care: Make your own mental and physical health a priority! Reach out to your physician or mental health counselor if needed.
- Take a break when you can: Whether it’s a quick nap, sleeping in, or doing something that is relaxing, be sure to take time for yourself.
- Give yourself credit: You are doing one of the toughest jobs out there!
Family caregivers do tremendous work for their family member, neighbor or friend and they deserve support and appreciation. Looking for support in your role as a caregiver, NOAH can help.