If you become a caregiver for an elderly person, you’ll take great pride in your duty. For your loved one, you will be indispensable – not just emotionally, but functionally and logistically, too. Still, with this important task comes a measure of stress. Dealing with a loved one’s end-of-life planning can take a lot out of you. It’s easy to forget to take care of your own stress when you give so much of your time to another.
That’s why caregivers should know a few of the most effective ways to handle this stress or avoid having it build up in the first place.
- Establish a Secure Financial Future
Nothing weighs on the back of the mind like fiscal uncertainty. As the object of your care approaches the end of their life, have you devoted time to hashing out those details? There’s the will, power of attorney, estate planning, bank accounts – and that’s just the start. It sounds like a lot, but by setting time aside well in advance to make a list and discuss the options with your loved one, you can avoid the headaches involved with last-minute arrangements.
Being a caregiver requires you to be your best self.
- Seek Advice
You might be the sole caregiver, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lean on others for support, advice, or just a chance to decompress. To take on your role takes strength, flexibility, and loads of patience – but those things can add up. Don’t bottle it in. Find someone you can confide in, like a spouse, sibling, good friend, or professional. Mayo Clinic recommends searching through community resources like the local Area Agency on Aging. Caring for a loved one you know to be approaching the end of his or her life is not easy, so there’s nothing wrong with discussing your feelings with a doctor.
- Keep Things in Perspective
Though being a caregiver is challenging at times, remember – in a few years, when your loved one has passed, you’ll come to cherish these moments. As difficult as it is now, and as much as it seems like everything is rushing past you at once, try to slow things down and be mindful of the time spent with your loved one. Remember to get sleep, eat well, and exercise – the things that keep your body and mind in balance normally. Don’t neglect yourself – as the AARP notes, doing so can lead to exhaustion and burnout.
Fortunately, there are many resources available that offer tips and advice to stressed caregivers. The bottom line is to plan ahead, have a solid support network for you and your loved one, take care of yourself, and remember to step back from time to time to consider just how lucky you are to have this opportunity.