We’d also like to reassure you that you’re far from alone. The Pew Research Center reports that more than 40 million adults in North America provide unpaid care to elderly loved ones, and many of them also have significant daily responsibilities that transcend that care. More than one in 10 U.S. parents care for children as well as adults; in addition, those multigenerational caregivers spend an average 3 hours and 17 minutes a day on other work for which they’re paid.
At Ebenezer, we’re here to help. With over 100 years of experience providing quality care for older adults, we’re experts in navigating the many challenges that can be part of the caregiver experience. While the role of caregiver can offer substantial rewards, it can also be demanding enough to strain the resources of even the most resilient person. And we recognize and honor the truth in the situation: If caregivers don’t take care of themselves, they'll eventually become unable to care for anyone else.
In recognition of that, here are our suggestions for helping prevent caregiver fatigue even as you carry on with your labor of love.
Caring for the caregiver
- Ask others for help. Admitting you need assistance isn’t a weakness. Communicate your needs to your siblings, spouse, children and friends and ask them to pitch in or provide care in shifts. They may be unaware of your stress. Consider support from our partners at Fairview Caregiver Assurance, which is a membership program that provides resources over the phone, in-person and online to aid caregivers in their journey.
- Delegate other tasks. Do you need help with errands, housework, meal prep or other daily living tasks that are going undone? People in your life want to help out, but may not be suited to caregiving responsibilities. Making a meal or doing your laundry are perfect ways to let them take some of the load off of you.
- Build in relaxation time. When spending time with your loved one, take frequent breaks. After hours, make sure to allot time for activities you find enjoyable and relaxing, such as massage appointments, naps, baths, walks in nature, yoga classes, salon visits and music sessions.
- Monitor your own health. Keep doctor and dentist appointments, and address any concerns. Work exercise into your daily routine. Eat nourishing foods. Get enough sleep so that you wake up refreshed.
- Acknowledge your own feelings. It’s OK to admit to yourself that you feel sad, angry, frustrated, resentful, overburdened or scared. Consider journaling about your thoughts and emotions, or perhaps incorporate them into prayer or meditation.
- Check into family leave benefits. Your employer may offer paid or unpaid time off that can help give you more time to spend with, and care for, your loved one.
- Find a support group. Talking openly to others who understand exactly what you’re going through can be an enormous relief. At Ebenezer, we offer a number of Care Partner support groups for caregivers. Some meetings are topic focused, dealing with issues that affect caregivers. Others offer safe spaces to share thoughts and emotions with other caregivers, or just listen and take it all in.
- Consider respite care. Several organizations can offer temporary care for your loved one when you need a break or wish to take a vacation. At Ebenezer Assisted Living Communities, we provide fully furnished Stay By the Day Apartments in which individuals are invited to stay for three to 30 days. Health support and personal support are customized to the person's needs, meals are included and care attendants are on-duty 24-7.
- Accept that you’re not superhuman. Admit to yourself you won’t be able to make life idyllic for your loved one. No matter how hard you try, you can’t control the decisions they make, halt the aging process or cure incurable diseases. Some days will go better than others, and on many days your best efforts will have to be enough.
- Maintain your sense of humor. Remaining grave and serious all the time can be exhausting. Laughing with your loved one can break the tension when situations seem surreal or ridiculous.
Taking care of your loved one may be one of the most important and rewarding tasks you’ll ever undertake, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy in any way. If you’re a caregiver, think of Ebenezer as a trusted resource when it comes to senior care. Reach us at 612-672-7262 for more information.