Caring For the Caregiver

As we grow ever closer to the holiday season, it is important to remember to find time to care for yourself-especially if you are in a caregiving role. A caregiver is an individual who provides support either physically or emotionally to a relative or friend in need.

Here are some ideas of how you can take care of yourself during a season of feeling overextended. Remember that caring for yourself is an extension of caring for your loved one.

Share decision-making-If your loved one is able to still make decisions for himself, allow him to assist in the daily care decisions. For example if possible, allow him to choose meal times and bathing times. Involve him in errands for his care supplies if you are able. You can relieve some of the burden and your loved one will feel a sense of independence and empowerment.

Remember your needs-Get away at times. Although this may bring feelings of guilt or conflict to the surface, you will find short respites give you the perspective to return to your day to day caregiving duties.

Involve others-Although you may feel very alone in your role, there may be family and friends who are willing to help, but just need to be asked. People usually want to help when they are aware of a need. Family meetings are a perfect place to brainstorm schedules and divide responsibilities.

Talk-Sharing your thoughts and feelings about caregiving and your many responsibilities can relieve the emotional pressures that come with caregiving. This does not have to take place in traditional therapy, but it can. Through your company’s EAP program, you can receive counseling as well as many counselors accept traditional medical insurance. You can also find a trusted friend who is willing to listen and be a sounding-board.

Remember, you are one person. Be aware of your abilities as well as your limits.

Lastly, Senior Management Services is here to help. Whether you are in need of a brainstorm, sounding-board, or specific caregiving resources, our counselors are available to assist you in your caregiving role.

For additional information about concerns related to your older relative, contact your Eldercare Information & Referral Program at 1-800-253-9236.

Written by

Laura Enslen has a bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown College in social work and a masters degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. Laura is a licensed social worker and has experience providing care to older adults in their homes through her work as a hospice social worker in Baltimore, MD. She has helped clients and families cope with long term planning concerns, a new terminal diagnosis, and caregiving issues. Prior to her hospice experience, Laura worked in the hospital setting in Philadelphia, PA and Baltimore, MD where she helped patients and families navigate the labyrinth of health care services and plan for discharge from the hospital. Laura is also trained in guiding clients through relaxation with breathing techniques and guided imagery.

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