Family Caregiver Resolutions for 2022 and Beyond
Today, a record number of people are providing care for older loved ones. Caregiving brings with it many emotional rewards. But caregiving can be physically and emotionally demanding. Carers are stressed as they struggle to balance caregiving tasks with their work and other family responsibilities. They lose sleep worrying about the quality of care they’re providing. It’s no wonder! Today’s family carers are asked to perform skilled medical tasks that might seem more the job of a healthcare professional.
The pandemic has increased carers’ workload considerably. Studies show family caregivers now are providing substantially more care than they were a year ago as they try to keep their older loved ones both safe and socially connected—this on top of working from home, and perhaps supervising their children’s school days. A study from the University of Southampton even speaks of social inequalities between those who are caring for an older loved one and those who aren’t.
Juggling all these tasks can lead to what’s called caregiver. This is a sense of exhaustion when a carer feels drained of time and energy, coupled with feelings of anxiety and guilt. Caregiver burnout can lead to serious depression, and raises the carer’s own risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia and early death.
If you are a family caregiver, make caring for yourself a top goal. Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be a less effective carer for your loved one. Here are some great suggestions to add to your list of resolutions going forward:
#1 “I will build some ‘me-time’ into my schedule.” Carers often tell themselves that they don’t have time to do things they enjoy, or to visit with friends, or just to relax for a while. But respite is vital so you can recharge your emotional batteries.
#2 “I’ll get enough exercise and eat a healthy diet.” Studies show family carers often neglect the basics of a healthy lifestyle. But you endanger your own health if you live on fast food and your lifestyle is busy, yet largely sedentary.
#3 “I’ll keep current with my own healthcare.” Though they might spend a great deal of time managing their loved one’s doctor appointments and medications, carers seldom have the same diligence about their own healthcare. When was your last checkup?
#4 “I’ll learn more about my loved one’s health condition and what I can expect in the future.” Uncertainty and fear of the unknown can cause us a great deal of stress. Getting a handle on your loved one’s situation lets you plan ahead, with fewer surprises that could catch you off guard.
#5 “I’ll connect with others who understand.” Many carers hesitate to discuss what they’re going through. But it’s so important to express your feelings. If it doesn’t feel safe to share with family and friends, join a caregiver support group—either in person or, more likely these days, online.
#6 “I’ll seek professional counseling.” A counselor can help you sort through your feelings and provide tools for navigating the complicated emotions of family caregiving. Choose a therapist who is familiar with caregiver issues and dynamics.
#7 “I’ll set boundaries.” As a loved one’s care needs increase, family carers often find themselves spending more and more time and attention on those needs. This is understandable when a beloved family member needs us! But you may need to say no sometimes.
#8 “I won’t let ‘old business’ dominate.” Often the tables turn as loved ones age, and we’re providing rather than receiving care. Yet who can push our buttons better than Mum or Dad, a sibling, or our spouse? Focus on the tasks at hand. This is an area where your support group or counselor can be of great help.
#9 “I’ll practice self-compassion.” Feelings of guilt are petrol on the fire of caregiver burnout. Cut yourself some slack. Replace that critical voice inside your head with the same kind of caring empathy you would offer a dear friend.
#10 “I’ll get help!” Maybe you have a wry smile on your face at this point. “Those are lovely resolutions,” you might be saying. “But who has time for that? I’m a family caregiver!” You don’t need to go it alone. It’s time to get help, and there are resources to which you might turn:
- Talk to your family. Be open about the many things you do to support your loved one. Other family members might be unaware of the load, especially if they live at a distance. They might be glad to help by spending time with your loved one while you take some well-earned time to yourself, by assisting financially, or by helping you locate support services.
- Bring in professional care. During the past few years, professional in-home care became an even more attractive solution for supporting the well-being of older adults. Professional in-home caregivers take over many of the typical tasks of family carers, such as hygiene care, assistance with managing healthcare appointments and medications, light housekeeping and laundry, meal preparation … whatever tasks need doing. They provide respite care so you can take a break, even go on holiday.
- Look to hire through an agency that has stepped up to today’s challenges. Right at Home caregivers are always trained to reduce the risk of illness. They follow local and national guidelines on curtailing the spread of COVID-19. Right at Home has a task force devoted to keeping owners and caregivers up to date with the latest recommendations during this rapidly changing situation. As families work hard to keep the most vulnerable family members safe at this time, having trained professionals on the team is a tremendous stress-buster.
Why Right at Home?
- Over 20 years of experience. Right at Home has been providing award winning customized senior care and home care for over 20 years.
- YOUR Caregivers are all part of YOUR Care Team. This means that there is no revolving door of Personal Support Workers and Nurses. With the help of your Care Planner, you choose and get to know them. This leads to an level of care for your loved one that is unsurpassed in our industry.
- Working with government support. Your Care Planner will work to help you find the government supports you are eligible for (if you would like them) and then work to find a solution for the care needs that go above what government and family can do. We will also work around the government care plan so that we are enhancing it.
We help in home, wherever home is to you.
Our Caregivers are always out in the community visiting homes, Retirement Residences, Long Term Care (LTC), hospices and hospitals.