Post by Bruce's Team Guest Blogger: Jason Lewis of Strongwell.org
Senior caregiving is a powerful, deeply meaningful experience. It can have a profound effect on the relationships with our loved ones, and we can learn about what it means for one to have to go through ailments that require the constant help of another.
Of course, caregiving can sometimes lead to negative feelings of burnout, stress, depression and even resentment among those who are providing care for an aging person. If you’ve been struggling to find fulfillment in your role as a caregiver in someone’s life, the key might be in finding better balance between caregiving, your job, and your personal life.
1 in 3 people currently struggle with work-life balance and caregiving adds additional complexities that can be difficult to juggle at times. If you’ve felt stressed, challenged or burdened by long-term caregiving, try to take some time for self care. Use your resources and call upon others who can help with caregiving while you relax, take a yoga class, or read your favorite book.
It is also helpful to remember your compassionate side. Have you always had a soft spot for the elderly? Were you ever close to the person you are currently caring for? Try to mindfully reframe caregiving as being more than just something you “have” to do. It is much more than that. Like volunteer work, caregiving is also a way to help someone in need, make someone smile, and brighten someone’s day. It will feel good knowing you’ve been able to do any (or all) of those things.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it also helps to know your resources. Chances are high that your area might offer support groups for caregivers. If you’re not sure where to find this type of support, your local senior center is a good place to start. If the person you are caring for has substance abuse issues or alcoholism, or if you are concerned that you are becoming codependent, you may also want to seek help from an anonymous group such as Al-Anon. With free support groups throughout North America (and online support for those in other regions), Al-Anon can be an excellent resource for caregivers.
Caring for our elderly population is one of the most important and compassionate things we can do as a society. Luckily, we don’t have to do it alone. When we make use of our available resources and are willing to ask those around us for help when needed, we can balance our own needs for self care with our jobs, our personal life, and our roles as caregivers.
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