We all deal with stress differently. Being a full-time caregiver can be very taxing. It’s important to know when you should take steps to reduce stress before it negatively affects your quality of life and your effectiveness as a caregiver.
1. Learn as much as you can: Illnesses are complex. As they progress they pose new and greater challenges. Researching these progressions and reading about the best ways to manage symptoms can reduce anxiety. Be well prepared for the current situation and understand the future possibilities.
2. Plan ahead: No illness follows an identical course but they do progress in recognizable patterns. Planning for the next stages of the disease can help reduce stress.
3. Know your limits: Be honest with yourself and only do what you can handle without burning out. If there is too much on your plate, seek outside assistance. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Finding the help you need will present its own challenges, but it’s worth the time investment.
4. Regularly reassess your role as a caregiver: If your loved one’s illness progresses, their needs will change. You will need to adjust your expectations and responsibilities. Be sure to look at your changing role on a regular basis, and look ahead to future changes so you can prepare.
5. Get help: No matter what your situation is, there will be times when you need support, emotionally and physically. Don’t fall into the trap of insisting on doing it all yourself.
6. Take care of yourself: You are the most important person to your loved one, so taking care of you is essential to them. Do not put yourself last. You can’t neglect your own health and well being.
7. Identify what you can and can’t change: There is a fine line between doing everything you can and taking on too much. Realize that there are some things you simply can’t change. Don’t try to get your loved one to change their attitude or behavior when it simply may not be possible.
8. Don’t lose your sense of humour: Disease and long-term illness are serious matters but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some humour in daily events. Laughter is important, and can be comforting for both you and your loved one.
9. Share your situation: Talking about your situation and your feelings can be very therapeutic. Discussing your caregiving role with people may bring you new insights and valuable solutions to challenges your are facing.
10.Stay positive: Maintaining a positive attitude can affect the way you cope with the realities and stresses of care giving. If you are having trouble staying positive, consider joining a support group, seeing a therapist or talking to a trusted friend to help you regain perspective.
Qualicare Ottawa can provide short-term, temporary relief for people caring for family members at home in Ottawa. This at home respite care can reduce stress and prevent caregiver burnout. Contact us for more information.