Even if taking care of an elderly loved one is something you are doing quite happily and willingly, there is no question that it has a great impact on your life. In fact, research conducted by the National Institutes of Health shows that being in a caregiving role creates chronic physical and psychological stress which can cause you to react unpredictably to life events. The new year represents a time when you can resolve to not only take care of yourself, but be sure you are showing patience and care with your loved one, even when times are tough. Below are some things to consider to help you get started.
- Learn to put yourself first. If you are sacrificing all of your time and energy to your loved one, they are not getting the very best version of you. Prioritize sleep, exercise, healthy eating, and some time away from the caregiving situation.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you are having a bad day. The stress of caring for a loved one is real. You are only human, and bound to get frustrated sometimes. If you feel you have taken anger out on your loved one unfairly, apologize and move forward.
- Learn to let go of perfection. There is only so much you can do in a day. As long as your loved one is safe, it doesn’t really matter if the trash cans are overflowing or the toilet could use a cleaning.
For Your Loved One:
- Resolve to be a better listener. It’s not unusual to get so wrapped up in a caregiver role that you begin to make all of the decisions without stopping to ask for your loved one’s input. Take some time each day to set your task list aside and really talk to your loved one about what they are thinking and feeling.
- Embrace your loved one while they are still here. If someone you love is ailing, you may be unintentionally shutting yourself off emotionally in preparation for their eventual passing. Try to avoid this pitfall and enjoy the time you have with your loved one each and every day.
- Don’t leave any unfinished emotional business with your loved one. Share your memories, whether they bring on laughter or tears. Make sure your love one knows all they have done for you, and how much you love and appreciate them.