“Patience in the present, faith in the future, and joy in the doing.”
~ George Perera
We all have a special calling in life. For some of us, it takes a while to figure out what that special gift may be. For others, it is apparent from a very young age.
Caregiving is one of those natural special gifts for some individuals, although I do believe that it can be a learned or acquired talent. It takes an open caring heart, immense patience and perseverance, and a passion for serving others. It is an admirable and noble thing to provide care for another.
We all give care at some point in life whether to our own family or to others through our profession. According to AARP, “more than one in five Americans (21.3 percent) are caregivers, having provided care to an adult or child with special needs at some time in the past 12 months. This totals an estimated 53.0 million adults in the United States, up from the estimated 43.5 million caregivers in 2015.” The majority of caregivers in the United States are women.
Caregiving may take a toll on the caregiver’s physical and emotional health. This stress can manifest in caregiver burnout causing loss of sleep, shortness of temper, and eventual physical decline of the caregiver’s health.
At what point do you need to ask for help?
Our society is pushing families to care for older adults at home because of the cost of care and the fact that most older adults don’t have the funds to pay for their own care. However, in most families, both spouses work and oftentimes the older adults are left alone. Loneliness and isolation add to depression which can lead to lack of appetite and failure to thrive.
The key to successful caregiving is to:
- Know your limits
Everyone has personal limits. When you provide care beyond your limits, you may get irritable and take it out on the person you are caring for.
- Take a break when needed
Schedule some help, a friend or other family member to take over to provide a much-needed break. Take care of your own physical and mental health.
- Surround yourself with a support system
Don’t isolate yourself, reach out to others who understand your situation and join a support group. Being able to talk to others in similar situations can help give you perspective and resources for where to look for help.
- Know when to get help
Central Minnesota is blessed with an abundance of resources that enable older adults to live active, vibrant lives in any location of their choice.
There is no shame or personal failure in admitting that you can’t do everything and sometimes you can unintentionally hurt yourself, or the one you are caring for, in trying. When caregiving becomes too much, it is time to make a move. The Central Minnesota Council on Aging Senior LinkAge Line (1-800-333-2433) is a free resource to help guide and direct you to local organizations that can help. Don’t wait until your situation becomes a crisis, be proactive and be an advocate for your loved one. Transitions can be hard, but not making a transition can be even harder.