For almost a year now you’ve been caring for your aging in place elderly mother, but her health just recently took a turn for the worse. You’ve also been juggling a household and part-time job, and the stress is starting to wear you down. You snapped at mom just the other day, and your spouse and kids have noticed a big change in your behavior. Caring for an aging loved one can be overwhelming even during the best of times. Here are several ways to stay positive as a family caregiver when things aren’t going quite so well.
Negative Emotions Family Caregivers Experience
Being an informal caregiver can seem like an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows depending upon the day.
Some of the negative emotions family caregivers experience include:
- Detachment and indifference
These unhealthy feelings might be directed towards yourself, other family members or the one you’re caring for, and if allowed to persist they can have a detrimental effect on your quality of life and relationships.
How to Maintain a Positive Outlook
Here are several ways as a caregiver to ensure that your outlook remains positive no matter how difficult life becomes:
Come to terms with the fact that no matter how hard you try your loved one’s health is probably going to get worse. That’s due to the aging process itself and not a reflection on you. There’s only one of you, so don’t allow guilt to interfere with the love and nurturing that you are able to provide.
Listen to Your Body
When you take better care of your body your mind will follow. If you’re constantly tired, start by getting plenty of sleep every day. Exercise is a great stress reducer, so set aside some “me time” to work out. Eat nutritious meals throughout the day and spend a few minutes in prayer or meditation to cleanse away those negative thoughts. Yoga or Tai Chi are great ways to keep both your body and mind fit.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
It’s human nature to focus on the bad times instead of the good ones. Start a gratitude journal and write something positive in it every day, for example that you were able to get mom outside the house for a walk. Use your gratitude journal to record other things that you’re thankful for, like the fact that you get to spend quality time with her.
Celebrate small victories like getting mom’s basement cleaned out by pampering with a personal spa day, pair of new shoes or weekend getaway with your spouse. Rewarding yourself for small victories is a great way to keep a more positive attitude through thick and thin.
Some caregivers turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate, but alcohol is a depressant that makes negative feelings even worse. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol will also keep you from addressing what’s really going on deep inside.
Talk to a Counselor
Speaking with a licensed therapist doesn’t mean you’re weak. Not only is the average mental health professional a great listener, they’ll keep what you say confidential and equip you with various skills to overcome negative thoughts. Other sources of encouragement you can turn to include a caregiver support group or clergy member.
Take a Break
Sometimes it’s best to just take a well-deserved break to recharge for a while. Find someone to step in temporarily, like a sibling, close friend or community volunteer that works with the elderly. Another option is hiring a professional respite caregiver from a reputable home care agency.
Compassionate In-Home Respite Care for Seniors
When you’re ready to take a break from your caregiving duties, contact First in Care Home Health Agency. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, one of our highly trained respite caregivers can step in until you’ve had a chance to fully recharge. Our focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, independence and dignity so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
While in the home, our carefully screened aides can perform duties like light housework, meals, personal hygiene, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, all our family trusted services can be individually combined into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about First in Care today, or to schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area now, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com.