Visiting Angels, Punta Gorda Blog

Taking Care of the Caregiver

Another busy holiday season has come and gone, and with it, a new year has begun. Now that the new year is here, perhaps you are one of the many millions of Americans who have set a new year’s resolution. Whether your aim is to eat healthier, lose weight, spend more time with family and friends, or quit a bad habit, the new year offers hope with the opportunity to better ourselves. For the family caregiver, setting a new year’s resolution might be too daunting because they know they don’t have the time to commit to achieving such a goal. Taking care of an aging loved one, even as noble and honoring as it is, exhausts their last bit of energy.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, on average, those caring for a loved one over the age of 50 are 47 years old themselves and working at least part-time. Most family caregivers are women, but at least 40% of caregivers are men.

Coffee mug on table

Family caregivers often report feeling unprepared to provide care for their aging loved one and have inadequate knowledge on how to provide proper care. Family caregivers are often at a loss when it comes to accessing and utilizing community resources due to an unfamiliarity with the type and amount of care that their loved one needs on a day-to-day basis. As a result, family caregivers often take on too much, putting their own health at risk, in order to care for their aging loved one. As we welcome 2019 with high hopes and expectations, here are a few ways to take care of the caregiver.

Find Support

Join a support group that shares a common concern. Whether it’s an Alzheimer’s or dementia support group, a group that’s specific to family caregivers, or another health-related support group, connecting with other people in a similar situation offers you a place to vent. Support groups are a great way to share resources and learn more about disease-specific interventions. Many groups meet in hospitals, libraries, or at churches. You can even find support groups that meet virtually via social media. If you are struggling to find the right support group for you, seek advice from your aging loved one’s doctor.

Accept Help

Many of us have a difficult time asking for help. We have this mindset that we can do it all, when, there are only so many hours in the day. If you are a family caregiver, realize that you cannot care for your aging loved one and yourself without help. You may be able to juggle both for a brief period, but eventually, you’ll burn out and end up doing more harm to your own health. Whether you ask other family members to pitch in or hire in-home care to give you respite, accept help whenever and wherever you can.

Establish Healthy Boundaries

Caring for an aging loved one only becomes more and more difficult as their health declines. It’s easy to assume the role of family caregiver without much of a discussion when your aging loved one needs some help here or there. However, as they continue to grow older and demand more and more of your time, it’s easy for boundary lines to blur. In order to take care of yourself, set healthy boundaries with your family and loved one. Commit to what you can and are willing to do for your aging loved one and learn to say “no” to tasks that are too demanding for your personal or professional life. Then, find alternative ways to manage the rest. Whether it’s signing up for Meals on Wheels so that you don’t have to cook dinner for you aging loved one, asking siblings to manage the laundry or housekeeping, or bringing in outside help to provide bathing assistance, there are many options that can help you maintain healthy boundaries.

Step Away

Finally, give yourself permission to take time away from caring for your aging loved one. Everyone deserves a vacation from time to time, when was the last time that you took time away for you? Time away gives the family caregiver an opportunity to recharge and can help strengthen the relationship between caregiver and their aging loved one. Schedule a week off from your caregiving responsibilities. Arrange for siblings, other family members, friends or an in-home care agency to care for your aging loved one so that you can step away. Whether you use the time away to travel or just enjoy a week at home with no obligations, you’ll feel refreshed and reenergized to resume your caregiver role.

Make 2019 your best year yet by partnering with Visiting Angels Punta Gorda. We understand the demands of caring for an aging loved one and the burden it places on the family caregiver. Put yourself first by accepting help from us. Whether you are looking for consistent in-home care to help alleviate some of the caregiving burden, or need a week away to recharge, our Angel companions are equipped to step in where help is needed most. When you choose us for home care, you are choosing quality and reliable care. We work with you to create a plan of care that addresses your aging loved one’s specific needs. Contact us today by calling 941-347-8288 Punta Gorda or 239-226-1620 Lee County.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.