1) There are no days off. It’s a 24/7 “job” and most likely the most rewarding and most difficult job you’ll ever have.
2) Feeling exhausted and/or a sense of being overwhelmed has nothing to do with how much you love the person you’re caring for or how well you’re doing it. Caregiving is physically and mentally exhausting.
3) It’s normal to feel guilty. On a daily basis. Could have, should have, and so on. It’s also normal to want “it” to be over. That is not the same as wanting or wishing your loved one to pass.
4) When people promise a loved one that they would never put them in a nursing facility, in many cases they didn’t know it would be years unend or what the future would hold even perhaps the caregiver aging or getting ill.
5) Caregiving usually falls (for lack of a better word) on one family member. Family strife is normal because of this. I’ve heard this so many times including from professionals in the field. You have to let it go. Just completely let it go. If they wanted to help they would. Having resentment towards them will only upset you.
6) Caregivers get sick. If you don’t make time for you now, you won’t have time later. Many caregivers pass away before the person they’re caring for does. Caregivers are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, depression and even suicide among other things. If you have an illness yourself, stress can and will exacerbate your symptoms. This is why self care is so important.
7: Identity: Don’t become consumed with your loved one’s needs to the point that you forget your own needs. Don’t forget your purpose! We all have a purpose.
In addition to this, I’ve learned that if your loved one has Medicaid (mine doesn’t), you may be paid for caring for them.
Most importantly, I emphasize making time for yourself. Get out the house and be around people. Caregiving can be isolating. Try to eat well, sleep well, and exercise….simple things that caregivers so often don’t do. In the past there’s been days I’ve been to tired to eat. Do whatever you can to stay physically strong and mentally indestructible. The only way you can do this is to put yourself first. Again, THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN DO THIS IS TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST! You need to find an inner peace that’s so powerful that nothing can dent it. It can be done. This inner peace will be your salvation. This inner peace will remind you why you’re a caregiver, because you want to be there for your loved one and you love them.
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help. For example, something as simple as Meals On Wheels or God’s Love We Deliver may help a great deal. One (big) less thing to worry about.
There are a few respite facilities (usually an assisted living or nursing facility) in certain areas that your loved one can go and stay for up to a certain amount of time to give you a break. From my experience they’re not inexpensive.
Naturally, check into insurance and see if they’ll cover a little bit of time per week. Unfortunately, most do not.
Check out senior day care if you’re caring for a senior. They’re wonderful for both the senior and the caregiver. A lot of them have Doctors and Social Workers on staff and that’s a big help. Even a couple of days a week if you can swing it. I know here in N.Y.C. Medicaid will pay for it. (I do know some will not accept a blind person).
And if and when the time comes that you can no longer do it for whatever reason, do not feel guilty. We do the best we can when we can.
We need more resources for caregivers.
Take care of you.
*this is not professional advice. just a caregiver who has ms sharing my caregiving experience*