Becoming a care giver might not have been a conscious decision on your part. It may have arrived quietly and unnoticed because you are the adult child of your elderly parents who now require care or you may have a special needs child that exacts your constant attention or a friend or spouse has become very ill and needs your support. In any of these situations the impact of providing constant care is tremendous.
One of the most difficult things about taking on a care giver role is that feeling of isolation, that sense of being all alone. Often times we think we need to do the job completely by ourselves, that the responsibility lays entirely with us. That's not true. You can ask for help.
Here's a few tips that will encourage you to get comfortable asking for and receiving the help you need in caring for a loved one.
1. First of all, recognize that care giving can definitely become a very responsible, overwhelming and isolating job. And also recognize that it's a sign of strength to ask for help. It means that you understand the situation and have begun to take a proactive approach to making your life better.
2. Your role may be the primary caregiver and with that in mind, it is very important to include your extended family as part of your care giving team. Perhaps your family members could provide some specific help such as handling yard work, preparing some meals, helping with financial issues, taking on the primary role so you can get away on vacation.
3. Write down all the tasks that need to be done on a weekly basis, the ones that you are most concerned about. These may include working outside the home, getting to doctor appointments, driving the kids to after school activities, laundry, cooking, cleaning, filling out forms, picking up medicines, therapy sessions, regular family duties, etc. When you see them in 'black and white' you will quickly realize just why it is you are so tired and why you need to accept any offers of help.
4. Become very aware of your monthly schedule and how others might be able to slip into the caregiver role and give you a hand. Remember, you must be ready to give them a date, time and duties when they offer assistance to you. Make a list of specific tasks that someone else could handle for you. Perhaps it's hands on assistance with personal care for your loved one or providing transportation to an appointment or activity, administering medications, helping with housework, doing the grocery shopping. You may even want to categorize these tasks so it will be easier to help decide who might be the best person for the job.
It's very important for you to learn to ask for and accept help when it is offered. Care giving at the best of times is certainly more than a 'one man job'. Realize just how extraordinary you are as a human being and recognize how important you are in caring for your loved one.
Love, honor and value yourself. Remember, by taking good care of your own health and emotions you will in turn be better able to help your loved one and enjoy a happier, less stressful lifestyle.
Lois Galloway is a Professional Coach. Lois is also the founder of Discover Yourself Coaching which specializes in coaching and caring for caregivers. To learn more about how you, as a caregiver can live 97% guilt free, please visit her web site at http://www.discoveryourselfcoaching.com You can also sign up for the Caregivers Monthly Newsletter.