Being a caregiver for a loved one is difficult work. You not only have the physical challenges of the job but the mental and emotional difficulties. Caregiver stress has many reasons. See which apply to you:
- The worry associated with caring for a loved one when you’re not sure what you’re doing. You’re not a doctor.
- Concern for the lack of progress they are making. Shouldn’t they be getting better by now?
- Financial challenges of not being at work when you think you should be. For example, I took a month to care for my sister when she broke her back. I thought, “I can work from anywhere.” However, her care was almost constant, so I got very little done.
- The emotional stress of watching a loved one go through the illness can cause sadness and guilt if you wish to get back to your own life.
- I need to go to the store!
HELP: When they call, we come!
When you get the phone call that someone needs you, you pack a bag and leave it in a flurry. You cancel your life to manage theirs. Each day you do your best to ensure that your person is okay and comfortable. You worry every day that you’re doing it right. If your family member is on hospice, the emotions and challenges worsen, but hopefully, you will have more support from your hospice program.
The coping skills that I adopted were to push away the big picture as much as I could and focus on the day-to-day—taking one thing at a time. One insurance call. One doctor visit. One shower, one-bed transfer, one crisis at a time.
With all the stress and physical toll it takes, this is not to say that being a caregiver for a family member isn’t a rewarding experience. It is. The bond that you create with that person is stronger than ever and one that you would likely not trade for anything.
The Bottom Line: Respite Care to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
I’m sure you’ve heard that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else, and you hear it all the time because it’s true. If you get too run down, you can’t be an effective caregiver. Your health will suffer, both mental and physical. You also can’t be as nice as you would normally.
In the short term, like my one-month assignment, respite care wasn’t necessary, but to avoid caregiver burnout, depression, and health problems for a more extended period, you will need help.
Now: Make a plan to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
There are several things to assess when making your respite care plan.
- How often would you like help? For example, are you just looking to get errands run each week, or do you need to go out of town to visit your brother or best friend?
- We have a downloadable pdf so you can get specific about what your loved one needs. Use this to communicate these items with your respite caregiver.
- Now, see who can help. Do you have family or friends that can help? Show them the pdf, so they know they’ll have written instructions. If they can’t help physically, perhaps they can contribute financially to hiring someone.
Bluebird Health: Here to Help!
If families are unable to step in with caregiving, Bluebird Health can assist. With Hospice, Home Care, and Home Health, they have respite care available for every need. These professional helpers and skilled nurses can lower your caregiver stress by taking over while you are gone.
Make sure you get your free downloadable pdf Respite Caregivers Checklist to assist you. Contact us for your respite care needs.