Burdened, over-extended, tired, tense, on edge.
This month, Home Care Assistance recognizes family caregivers to raise awareness and bring attention to their significance in Canada and worldwide.
Sound familiar? If you are unexpectedly stepping into the role of family caregiver for a spouse or aging parent, while raising kids, you can relate to the heightened levels of major stress.
We recently talked about where to find resources for building a support team around you in How do I take care of my aging parents? and, here we explore various ways to recognize when it’s time to step back and take a look at one’s own mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
Keep a broad perspective
If you are going to be able to help your aging parent, your health care needs are equally or more important than taking care of your loved one. Access to research and dedicated health care professionals can provide guidance and insight to maintain self-care and manage family caregiving responsibilities.
As a family caregiver, it is necessary to:
- Constructively engage doctors, therapists, and pharmacists in problem-solving and the caregiving process
- Identify and secure support resources (friends, family, health benefits … etc.)
- Seek professional and trusted advice for yourself, and for the aging parent
Take healthy breaks from care responsibilities
Balancing home life, a career and looking after an ill parent takes discipline and a clear mind. All it takes is a sick child or an emergency with your parent and the best laid plans & schedules are thrown into turmoil.
Senior care recipients can take on childlike needs and require the same patience, time and understanding. And, with too many overlapping and overwhelming tasks and responsibilities, the caregiver’s stress levels go up and health starts to suffer.
StatsCan studies show that family caregivers are at a heightened risk of consulting medical doctors about feeling stressed, depressed and anxious when caring for an aging parent. It is the intensity and type of care required for seniors with age-related illnesses that can cause both physical and psychological problems.
If you are assuming the role of a volunteer caregiver, you will realize the role is demanding, often time-consuming and stressful. Learn about the resources available, build your support team, and ask for help.
Observe the impact on your lifestyle
If you live with the care recipient, it can mean being on-call 24/7. Without your own space and privacy, feeling trapped or having no time to decompress can be overwhelming, potentially resulting in high blood pressure and anxiety.
Whether you live with the person you are caring for, or not, here are some tips to keep balance in your life and those who depend on you:
- Talk about it. Maintain communication with siblings or friends/family to ease the burden of feeling isolated.
- Don’t try to do it alone. Talk to doctors, nurses, and pharmacists as life circumstances impact your lifestyle. Medical specialists and healthcare professionals are committed to finding solutions. They bring in-depth experience that can help guide you or anyone through the various stages of age-related diseases and illnesses.
- Read. There is an abundance of books, topic-related websites, and educational articles that can help with learning about different perspectives on caring for another person. You’ll gain a glimpse into the experiences of those who have lived what you are experiencing. We have put together a list of recommended reads on our website here
- Make time for yourself. You will be a better parent, spouse, friend and caregiver when you look after your own mental and physical health.
Listen for practical advice. Seek emotional support. Consult the various programs and services that are available to you. Public health and social work experts have developed strategies designed to reduce stress and other negative consequences for volunteer caregivers.
For more information on:
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s, visit alzheimer.ca
- Parkinson’s, visit parkinson.ca
- Consequences of Family Caregiving, visit statcan.gc.ca
If you are a family caregiver, take this quiz and see how you are faring.
At Home Care Assistance Vancouver, we focus on providing long-term quality care for aging adults. We recognize family caregivers for their passion and care. Reaching out for help during the time of caring can be nerve-racking and cause worry but any reputable home care assistance agency should ease the fear or doubt by answering all your questions, comments and concerns.
To learn more about our services, visit homecareassistancevancouver.ca or call us at (778) 279-3634. At your request, we can schedule a free in-home consultation if you are in the Greater Vancouver area.