August 31, 2009

Care for Caregivers: Knowing When to Take a Break

Caregivers are a blessing for the patient who is no longer able to perform many of the daily tasks of life for him or herself. In addition to the foregoing, the services of a dedicated caregiver will become more and more important as an illness progresses and further impairs a patient’s ability to manage even the simplest aspects of daily living. Yet while caregivers are such important people, they have a lot more to deal with than meets the eye.

Considering that many caregivers are close family members, oftentimes grown up children caring for their parents, the change in the parent child relationship is quite often devastating for the caregiver. It is indeed hard to look at a parent whose health is failing, who is no longer able to care for her or himself, needs help with feeding and perhaps even toileting, and then remembering the strong individual this person used to be. Sometimes grown children are not ready for this transition and wish it were progressing slower, or are simply afraid of the inevitability of the patient’s fate. Of course, the patient, very often the parent, may not be ready for this transition in the parent-child relationship either, and in addition to the physical and metal impairments may experience severe emotional distress that finds no outlet but against the caregiver.

As you can see, these care giving situations are a potential breeding ground for anger, frustration, discord, and great emotional upheaval, and there are times when a caregiver literally needs a time-out. Yet how will you know when to take a break? Here are four tried and true tips that will help you to ascertain when it is time to step back for a breather.

1. If you find that emotionally or physically your well being is beginning to suffer, it is time to take a break. For example, if you suffer from health challenges yourself but have them under control, yet suddenly they flare up worse than ever before you know that your role as caregiver is beginning to affect your health. Similarly, if you suddenly realize that you are suffering from a bout of depression or clinical anxiety, or if you find your relationships with others marred by withdrawal, irritability, or sudden angry outbursts, you know that it is time to step back. Obviously you cannot do away with your care giving, yet this may be the time to either find a support group that will allow you to channel and vent your anger in a safe environment, or perhaps you may wish to find a relief caregiver who can come in when you need a break. Ideally, these two combined will help you preserve your emotional and physical health. ...

Read more: Care for Caregivers: Knowing When to Take a Break

No comments: