Balancing responsibilities as a caregiver is one of the most difficult tasks you will undertake in your life.
We are used to multitasking in our lives, but add in an aging parent and the dynamic drastically changes. The usual carpool, dance classes, baseball, PTA, and work just became a little more difficult. You were already exhausted and running on fumes, but now you “sleep with one eye open”. Every noise makes you jump and your heart races, wondering if you need to check on everyone in the house.
I know, because I’ve been there. I was the secondary caregiver for my mom when she was sick. Caregiving is hard. It is probably one of the toughest things you will do in your life, but also one of the most rewarding.
Balancing your own life and caregiving is no joke. You need support. It is available; you just need to know where and how to find it. Your local department on aging is a great resource and can provide you with support services in your area or point you in the right direction.
Make sure you take advantage of any and all programs that are offered to you as a caregiver. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are still working, check with your employer to see if they will offer flexible hours or remote work. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Support may be closer than you think.
Don’t forget to talk to your own support system. Try to get your own family or friends involved to assist you when you need a break. It can be all-consuming as a caregiver. Make sure you take care of yourself. You won’t be any good for anyone if you become run down or sick. I would always tell my dad to monitor his health and take his vitamins, because he was the main caregiver for my mom. Thankfully, we had a good support system and he could take a rest when he felt like he needed it. If you don’t have a support system around you, please remember to look at the department on aging in your local area for programs or support services. There are groups and organizations out there willing to help give caregivers a much-needed break.
Through it all, don’t forget about yourself.
Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back every once in a while. People get busy with the day to day and may not tell you, but you are doing a wonderful job. Balancing all of the obligations in life and adding in the caregiving responsibilities of an aging parent is a huge transition. Make sure to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are doing one of the hardest jobs in the world and you are amazing. You’ve got this!
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