March 6, 2018
You slid through the holiday season with a little bit of patience and a whole lot of grace. You handled the holidays like a hero, through the snarky remarks and the less than thrilling family reunions. You managed to smile and conjure up the fumes of cheer, with never enough sleep time or peace. You were a caregiver. Cheers to 2018 and prioritizing your needs, and your future!
Caregiving is often a responsibility suddenly thrust upon us. With daily challenges to tackle, it can feel nearly impossible to get anything done. But I believe that caregivers not only to get the support they deserve but also to be able to feel a sense of accomplishment. Providing care for someone you love will never be easy. That’s why it’s important for caregivers to construct a stable foundation for their lives. Let’s look at five things caregivers can and must do in 2018 to help manage their journeys.
Some care recipients will refuse to discuss any of their finances or final wishes. They might feel nervous having to face the possibility of getting sicker or dying. So if they’re still capable of making sound decisions then let them. But you still need access to that information to make decisions for them in the event that they can’t. Regardless of their income, make sure that they have a will, and appointed a power of attorney over healthcare and finances. Will you be responsible for their burial or cremation? If so, how will you pay for it? It isn’t fair that you be left to settle the hefty cost of a funeral after sacrificing so much to take care of someone. In order to make the most informed decisions, you need to know what you’re working with.
Create a Caregiving Map
As a caregiver, you may struggle with asking for help, even when you need it most. You don’t want to bother people with your problems or ask them to go out of their way. But you’d be surprised how often people are willing to help you if they just know how. Your circle may be larger than you think. A great way to realize your support system is to create a CareMap. Atlas of Caregiving has created an amazing model that’s easy to follow. Watch their short video below to learn how you can create your own CareMap.
Plan for Your Life After Caregiving
Caregiving is something that you do. It is not your identity. You must be intentional about creating respite and personal development opportunities for yourself. Maybe you’d like to write a book about your experiences? Or maybe it’s been your dream to start the next phase of your life in another state, or country. Whatever it is, begin to consider the possibilities, and start planning now.
Manage Your Health
If you’re sick or hospitalized, your care recipient’s care could be compromised. So be proactive about your health. Your care recipient might get upset that you’re taking time away from their needs. Or you might feel guilty for leaving them in someone else’s care. But remember that it ’s a temporary sacrifice for a long-term benefit. Schedule annual checkups, and don’t overlook sudden aches or pains. Take care of your mental health. If you’re having trouble sleeping, focusing, seek help from a mental health professional. They can offer you tools that will help you to manage stress and cope with the hefty expectations that come with caregiving.
Learn When to Say No
Unpopular opinion alert: Steal time for yourself, if you must. It’s critical to your happiness and well-being. Learn when to say no to family requests, parent meetings, even church obligations (yes, even those). You can always return when you’re fully charged and ready to engage. You must also know when to say no to your care recipient. Assess each situation on a case by case basis. If the request isn’t critical to their health or safety and you’re burned out, it’s perfectly ok to say no. I know personally how difficult it can be to deny someone you love what they want, but remember that your most important obligation is to provide quality care and keep them safe, not to realize their every whim.
Are there other “must-dos” you’d add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Thanks and Take Care,