For Multigenerational Caregivers, Caregiving is a Constant
As Sandwich Generation multigenerational caregivers, caregiving is a vital constant, whether we are full time or part-time caregivers, or even if we are overseeing a beloved senior’s care at a distance.
While caring for a loved one is a noble and loving undertaking, it’s also hard work and it can be extremely stressful. If you’re caring for someone close to you, it’s important that you also take care of yourself. If you don’t, you risk burning yourself out—and then you won’t be able to help anyone.
Manage Stress and Help Prevent Caregivers Burnout
Here are five time-tested ways to manage your stress and help prevent caregiver burnout.
- Learn everything you can about your loved one’s condition. Once you understand the disease, its prognosis, and the treatments available, you’ll be better prepared to face the future and figure out the best ways you can help. It will also help you to remember that it’s the disease that’s causing the changes in your loved one.
- Allow your loved one to care for herself as much as she can. Not only will it make your job easier, but it will also help your loved one to maintain her dignity and allow her to keep her independence for as long as possible.
- Get help. Don’t be afraid to ask others to pitch in. They may be more than willing to help, but they may not know how. Be specific about what you need: “Mark, can you drive Grandma to her weekly physical therapy appointments and bring her home after?” or “Susan, would you be willing to pick up Grandma’s groceries when you do your own shopping each week?” Besides asking for help from friends and family, find out what kinds of services your community offers, such as Meals on Wheels or caregiver workshops.
- Take breaks. It’s imperative that you take frequent mental and physical breaks. Enlist a friend or neighbor to sit with your loved one for a few hours every so often. Alternatively, you might want to hire a health care worker to come in for a day or more. Some communities offer day care or longer-term respite care for seniors who don’t require intensive medical care.
- Seek out support. When you’re caught up in the day-to-day caregiving cycle, it’s easy to feel like you’re all alone and that no one understands what you’re going through. Finding a caregiver support group can be tremendously helpful; it’s comforting to know that you aren’t alone, and you may even learn some helpful strategies from others in the same situation.
Caring for the Caregivers is Vital
No matter how much you care about your loved one and want to help them, you MUST take care of yourself first. You’re not being selfish in doing this; you’re actually being very unselfish. It’s the same reason flight attendants instruct us to put on our own oxygen masks before assisting others. If you’re out of commission, you won’t be able to help your loved one anyway. Your job as caregiver is one of the most important jobs you’ll ever undertake; just remember that you have to take care of yourself, too.