Caring for a parent, spouse, or other loved one with a serious illness can be an overwhelming task. As our population ages and hospital stays get shorter, more of us are filling this role. In the United States alone, nearly 66 million—or one in three adults—is a family caregiver.
When you are forced to juggle your own needs with those of your loved one, you may feel alone and isolated, and that your closely held beliefs and values are being challenged. However, there’s no need to suffer in silence. There are things you can do on a daily basis to make the job easier and maintain your own health and quality of life. Here are just a few:
- Manage your time as efficiently as possible; use a calendar or appointment book.
- Delegate some tasks to others whenever possible, such as grocery shopping.
- Make time for yourself and keep up your own interests to avoid burnout.
- Learn all you can about your loved one’s illness; take notes and keep records.
- Maintain open communication with the health care professionals who are caring for your loved one.
- Talk about your feelings with your family and friends.
It is crucial to your well-being to take advantage of all the resources that are now available for family caregivers. For instance:
- EmblemHealth’s Care for the family caregiver program (http://www.emblemhealth.com/careforthefamilycaregiver) is an excellent resource.
- If you are a long distance family caregiver, you need to establish relationships you can count on so that you are not constantly worrying. AARP has some tips here (http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-09-2010/pc_tips_for_long_distance_caregiver.html)
- Chaplains On Hand™ was created to help you meet the needs of your spirit. It was written by professional chaplains who know the depth of the challenges you are experiencing, and respect your personal beliefs and values.