Rosalynn Carter was once quoted as saying….“There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.” Thus far in my “young” 42 years I’ve already filled three of those roles, I’m bracing myself for what’s around the corner! Caring for a loved one is filled with emotional upheaval, and when you compound that with other stresses—rush-hour traffic, deadlines, sick children, dirty laundry — we caregivers are often left holding the bag. We feel a pressure to be all things to all people, often ending up as the martyr and giving ourselves the short end of the stick. There are over 50 million caregivers in the United States - we are clearly not alone.
Caregiving is often an unrewarded act that requires unconditional devotion and support. Sometimes we become so involved in the day-to-day efforts of caring for a loved one; we forget we need “care” as well. Caregiving can be demanding, whether you’re taking care of a disabled child, a spouse with Parkinsons or a parent with Alzheimer’s, each of us responds to stressful situations in different ways. Unfortunately, some us start down a destructive path by not properly taking care of ourselves. Rather than openly expressing our feelings and seeking help, many of us overeat or use alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms - while others become impatient and agitated or completely lose our sense of purpose and self.
We must all incorporate certain behaviors into our daily lives to foster our own wellness and essentially “care for the caregiver.” Taking care of yourself benefits you and your loved ones. Taking the time to meet your personal needs will satisfy you and give you additional strength and vigor in your ongoing role as a caregiver.
Here are some tips to help you take care of yourself as you care for your loved ones:
ALEXIS ABRAMSON, Ph.D. is cited as America’s leading, impassioned champion for the dignity and independence of those over 50. Doctor Alexis is the author of two highly acclaimed books -- The Caregivers Survival Handbook and Home Safety for Seniors. For more information go to www.doctoralexis.com.
Given the many crucial issues surrounding the physical, mental, emotional, and lifestyle demands associated with caregiving, it’s important for families to be aware of where to go for answers, support, and encouragement.
Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer's Disease: A Guide for the Home Caregiver
by Peter Rabins, M.D., MPH, and Ann Morrison, RN, Ph.D.