Caregiving isn’t something you plan. It isn’t something you wake up one day and decide to bring into your life.
Instead, it’s thrust upon you, usually at the most inopportune time. You have a life. You’re busy. And you don’t want this job too.
There’s never a right time to take on the caregiving role. But there are ways to integrate it into your life with less stress. Here’s how.
Start The Conversation Immediately
Caregiving doesn’t just impact you; it impacts the one you’re caring for, and the friends and family around you too. Who is close to this situation? Who will have a part in the process?
Bring them together and start a conversation as early as possible. Listen and respect everyone’s desires. Try and include as much as you can while realizing that not every wish will be possible as you travel down this new path. Above all, keep trying. Every day will be different and bring to light new issues. There will be conflict; talking it out and bringing in help right from the beginning will ensure less stress down the line.
Form Your Team
Right from the beginning, realize you are not in this alone. If you try and handle everything yourself, you’ll face burnout and stress-related health problems quickly. The healthiest caregivers realize that a network of people to rely on is the best way to approach this new way of life.
That means reaching out beyond family members and friends. Communities can help with everything from cleaning the house to handling medical issues. It also means relying on mediators when things get a little rough. It’s nice to have an unrelated facilitator to help keep everyone focused and on track.
Make Your Plan
The best functioning teams always have a plan. It works in sports, in business – why not caregiving? You can’t anticipate everything, but there are many people that have faced a similar journey before you. Use those ideas to create your own plan.
Determine roles. This is especially important if more than one family member will be a part of the team, such as siblings taking care of a parent. Be honest with what you can and can’t do. Don’t just say it; write it down. It’s much easier to avoid arguments if you can go back to something concrete that defines actions and abilities. Also, realize that plans will change over time. We’re human; things change daily, and it’s important that your plan changes and grows with you.
Care For Your Loved One
This ultimately is all about your loved one facing a new path in his or her life. While you may be feeling stress and frustration, always return to what they are going through.
Your goal is to assist in this journey. You do so because of the love you have for this person. That’s all that matters. Reach out and get the resources you need to keep the love in that relationship alive and well. Asking for help is not letting you or your loved one down; it’s assisting in a difficult situation. It’s keeping the love alive.
You may be new to caregiving, but that doesn’t mean you’re not up for the job. One day at a time. That’s all it comes down to; you’ll do fine.