It is extremely important for the caregiver to take good care of him or herself as well as the care-receivers. CareGiving can be a thankless, exhausting job and it may seem selfish to take care of oneself when the care-receivers require so much attention. To fail to do so, however, can be destructive. Jesus said, “Love God . . . Love Neighbor . . . Love Self.”
The following guidelines are for care givers who feel overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, lonely, or like a “Caged Bird.”
- Know your limits. Do not take on more than you know you can handle emotionally, physically, financially, or otherwise.
- Ask for help from others. Accept help from others. Delegate some of the responsibilities.
- Have realistic expectations. Remember that you can not (usually) “fix” another person’s problems. You are called to comfort – walk alongside that hurting person, and to listen.
- Remember the basics that you need to be healthy & effective
Balance between work & refreshing time
Spiritual Energy (praying, Bible study, spiritual sharing, etc.)
- Schedule regular times of RESPITE. Can members of your church, family or extended family or friends help? Perhaps a home health aide, home health companion, a private duty nurse, adult foster care, or a short stay in nursing home or assisted living are possibilities.
- Pray – as Jesus did, get away, be quiet and pray and remember that a vital part of prayer is listening.
- Ask others to pray for you.
- Have a sense of humor. Laugh as much as you can.
- Express anger, depression and other difficult feelings occasionally.
- Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings.
- Repeat scriptures – find a meaningful Psalm & a personal “power-verse.”
- Simplify your life.
- Be open so that God can work. Keep giving your anxiety, fear, confusion to God.
- Treat yourself to something special.
- Take pride in what you are accomplishing and applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of a hurting person
- Find a listening friend.
- Consider being a part of a support group, or help form one if none is available.
- Seek out a sincere “hugger.” Sometimes the only thing that really helps to melt away our pain is a warm embrace. As Leo Buscaglia says, “To put your arm about another or on a shoulder is a way of saying, ‘I see you,’ ‘I feel with you,’ ‘I care.’ “
- Educate yourself about the care-receiver’s condition.
- Help the person to help themselves and maintain their routine, and dignity as much as possible.
- One of the most important things you provide to the one you take care of is emotional support. A listening ear can work wonders for their morale.
- Read James Cook’s booklet, Shared Pain and Sorrow: Reflections of a Secondary Sufferer, (Pilgrim Press, 1991.)
- Read pages 65-70 in The Compassionate Congregation.
- For some tips for the (long term) caregiver, see www.meandmycaregivers.com Choose “Articles” under “Personal Heath Organizer, . . .”