This article was graciously provided by Christine Cowgill MS, CRC
There is nothing more rewarding and sometimes more frustrating than caring for your loved one who is sick or dying. Even the best and most patient caretakers need to make sure they take the time out for themselves. Some good suggestions on caretaking and resources for caregivers can be found on the Internet.
In my Facebook page Tips For Caregivers
I share the most up to date and relevant information on how to best care for your loved one and yourself. For instance there are tips on how to best handle the stress of being a caregiver, from caregivers.org
Your level of stress is influenced by many factors, including the following:
•Whether your caregiving is voluntary. If you feel you had no choice in taking on the responsibilities, the chances are greater that you will experience strain, distress, and resentment.
•Your relationship with the care recipient. Sometimes people care for another with the hope of healing a relationship. If healing does not occur, you may feel regret and discouragement.
•Your coping abilities. How you coped with stress in the past predicts how you will cope now. Identify your current coping strengths so that you can build on them.
•Your caregiving situation. Some caregiving situations are more stressful than others. For example, caring for a person with dementia is often more stressful than caring for someone with a physical limitation.
•Whether or not support is available.
Steps to Managing Stress
1. Recognize warning signs early. These might include irritability, sleep problems, and forgetfulness. Know your own warning signs, and act to make changes. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed.
2. Identify sources of stress. Ask yourself, “What is causing stress
for me?” Sources of stress might be that you have too much to do, family disagreements, feelings of inadequacy, or the inability to say no.
3. Identify what you can and cannot change. Remember, we can only change ourselves; we cannot change another person. When you try to change things over which you have no control, you will only increase your sense of frustration. Ask yourself, “What do I have some control over? What can I change?” Even a small change can make a big difference. The challenge we face as caregivers is well expressed in the following words modified from the original Serenity Prayer (attributed to American Theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr):
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.”
With the proper information and resources to help you manage your caregiving situation as well and the support from family, friends and professionals, the care taking experience can go from burnout to quality care for you and your loved one.
Christine Cowgill MS,CRC is the author of Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care for the Dying (Balboa Press: 2013). Christine seeks to make a positive social change in the area of end-of-life care through raising awareness and increasing mandatory training for our upcoming physicians and nurses in the areas of palliative, emotional and spiritual care to the dying. For further information visit www.soulservice.info and her Facebook page Tips For Caregivers for information on all aspects of care for yourself and loved one.