Caregiving: Don't go it aloneDo you awaken at night to help your husband to the bathroom? Do you arrange your schedule to fit your parents’ appointments? Do you have a parent in assisted living and young children at home? You are not alone.
By: Mary Krueger, Douglas County Senior Coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press
Do you awaken at night to help your husband to the bathroom? Do you arrange your schedule to fit your parents’ appointments? Do you have a parent in assisted living and young children at home?
You are not alone. At least 44.4 million adults provide the care that is so critical in helping loved ones with debilitating illnesses remain in their homes and other community settings.
Do you feel guilty about putting your parent or spouse in a nursing home or assisted living? Some of the guilt we feel is cultural. This is especially true in the case of aging parents. There is also a cultural guilt between spouses. Many couples find themselves facing tough nursing home decisions after 50 years or more of marriage.
The guilt can become so deep that they themselves may not want to carry on alone. Sometimes they are wrecking their own health for the care of a loved one. Most often, they receive no time off and no time to take care of their own health needs. Until you deal with the guilt, there is no way you can start to take care of yourself. Guilt can make you tired and irritable and even more guilty for being tired and irritable.
Caregivers need to learn to take care of themselves. If you don’t, your own health is at risk. It’s amazing how often we see the caregiver die before the one being cared for. They wear themselves out.
Caregiving is tiring physically, mentally and emotionally. You need to find the time and the strength to give yourself a break and get some rest. Remember, it’s always OK to seek and ask for help. Getting help will enable you to be a better caregiver.
Help is available. Call me at (320) 762-3047 and I can give you a list of agencies that can help you on your journey. Just a small amount of help can make you a better caregiver and give you a break.
Join a support group. We have a Caregiver Support Group in Douglas County that meets the second Tuesday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria. All types of caregivers are welcome. If your loved one has cancer, memory loss, a stroke or heart disease, diabetes – whatever their issue – you are welcome to join our group. Give us a try. We learn together, laugh together and sometimes cry together.
Remember – you can’t do this alone. If you shoulder too much of the responsibility, you are at risk of burning out. That would be terrible for both of you.