Caregivers: Finding a system of support
There are people and resources to help
As someone caring for an elderly loved one, you can often feel overwhelmed and alone. Finding a system of support that is robust is essential for anyone who has taken on the responsibilities of caring for a senior. For seniors who are looking to build their network of support, read “Developing a system of support in your golden years.” Below are five tips for caretakers trying to develop their system of support.
Know you are not alone
When you take on the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one, you can feel isolated and overwhelmed. Knowing that there are others out there going through the same thing as you can be a comforting feeling. Even the thought of finding a system of support can seem intimidating. Seek out local support groups or online forums. Both can be a resource for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Hearing other people voice similar concerns can be therapeutic and can help ease some of the pressures of caregiving.
Ask those close to you for help
Even though you may be your loved one’s primary caregiver, it does not mean that you must take on every task on your own. Reach out to siblings, cousins, or other family members who can help you complete the long list of things you need to do. Perhaps a neighbor is willing to take your loved one shopping so you can have an hour to accomplish the things you need to take care of in your own life. We often underestimate the willingness of others to help in a tough situation. Sometimes even having an hour of alone time can be enough to recharge so that you are better equipped to take on your role as caregiver.
Try not to resent those unwilling or unable to help
Especially when it comes to caregiving for a family member, there may be times when you are overwhelmed that the responsibility falls on you. While you shouldn’t feel that everything rests solely on your shoulders, understand that not every family member is willing to or able to offer their help. It can be frustrating when an equally capable sibling seems to be shirking what you see as their responsibility but understand that the best caregiving circle is made up of those willing and able to help. Choose people in your life that you know you can count on; otherwise, it will only add to your stress.
Consider both community and faith-based organizations as a resource
Searching for assistance outside the home is a great way to increase your support network. Many community organizations exist to provide support to seniors and their caregivers. Consider faith-based organizations as an additional resource, especially if your aging loved one practice a particular religion. These organizations can be a resource for support groups and may even offer services like transportation to and from meetings and events. These organizations can be a useful resource for meeting like-minded people that may increase your circle of support.
Don’t be afraid to seek counseling or mental health services
Some people still carry a stigma around reaching out for mental health support or counseling, but you should not underestimate the stress of caregiving. As a primary caregiver often, people can feel that their own needs are not being met as they focus all their energy on caring for their loved one. If you start to feel overwhelmed, stressed, lethargic or show signs of depression, it is crucial to reach out to a professional for help. Finding a system of support is vital. Caregiving is a difficult job, and knowing when to seek support is crucial to being successful in your role.
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