As a caregiver, it can sometimes feel like your whole world revolves around the support, treatment and care of your loved one. When you live with conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, you might feel like you’re on the clock 24/7. As much as you want to be there for your loved one, the truth is, it can be both physically and emotionally exhausting both physically and emotionally.
But what can you do about it?
Well one of the most important things is to find ways of surrounding yourself with others. It is common for the caregiver to suffer from feelings of isolation. Caregiving responsibilities may prevent you from making social engagements or venturing out of the house as much as you’d like. Don’t allow yourself to become cut off from friends, family and your community. Caregiver isolation carries a heavy toll and can magnify the already considerable emotional weight of your responsibility.
Don’t Forget About You
Everyday Health points out that many caregivers simply don’t consider their own needs. The day-to-day responsibilities associated with caring for a loved one tend to take center stage. Your personal life may get lost in the shuffle. According to the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), 84% of respondents admitted that they had concerns about their personal health as a result of their responsibilities. In spite of this, many caregivers will also struggle with feelings of guilt and anxiety when they do take some time to themselves.
But the truth is, you have an obligation to yourself and to your loved one to take care of your needs too. If you don’t, you run a real risk of suffering from caregiver burnout. The more exhausted, frustrated and unfulfilled you feel, the harder it becomes for you to provide the highest quality of attention, care and compassion to your loved one.
You Are Not Alone
One of the top causes of caregiver burnout out is isolation. We are social creatures by nature and the feeling of loneliness can have a very real and tangible impact on quality of life. You may not realize it, but there are resources out there that can help you to get back in touch with yourself and others.
Your first step is finding a way to take back a bit of your personal time. Some sources advise reaching out to those around you for help. Do you have family members or close friends who could relieve you of caregiving duties for a few hours every week? Connect with people in your personal support network, your community or your religious organization. Try to build a community of people who have a vested interest in the health of your loved one. You may be surprised at how happy the people around you are to help shoulder the burden.
There are also organizations and resources that could help provide the occasional break by offering respite care. Explore your options and see if a respite care service might be of use to you, even if just once in a while.
Use Your Free Time For You
Once you do find a way to enjoy some personal time, use it wisely! Take a class, join a gym or meet friends for drinks. Whatever you do, makes sure it’s something that you enjoy and something that reminds you that you are still part of a much bigger world.