If you are finding yourself becoming the caregiver for your spouse, an elderly parent, or someone else that you love, then you are beginning a journey filled with incredible adventures and some turmoil. It is vital that you take care of yourself by recognizing your emotions and seeking help when needed. Remember that there are no good or bad emotions, but it is how you deal with them that can make all the difference. Take time along the way to take care of yourself before you experience caregiver burnout. Most caregiver relationships go through five stages.
Most seniors have done things in the same way for eons, and they may be unwilling to change in the beginning. Instead of insisting that they do everything that you want them too, be sure that you are modeling great behavior by getting your own financial and legal affairs in order. You may also want to spend time with the person during this stage doing fun things that you can talk about as the caregiving relationship progresses. You may also find yourself worrying endlessly about what the future holds, so this is a great time to get educated.
The second stage of becoming a caregiver is when the disabled individual begins to realize that they need help with many daily living activities. They, however, are willing to accept the help of their family when needed, but they are very resistant to outside help. While you and other family members may begin to talk about nursing homes or long-term solutions, the senior is resistant to even talking about the idea. Try to find workable solutions where everyone in the family is carrying a share of the load.
Seniors entering this stage are beginning to realize that they need help. Caregivers often struggle with finding the time to care appropriately for the disabled individual. Meanwhile, seniors are struggling to accept that they are no longer able to do many things by themselves. Many disabled individuals in this stage still struggle to stay in their homes, but others are willing to move to an assisted living facility. Even when seniors are willing to move, caregivers can experience a range of emotions because they feel pressure from their own families, their jobs, and the disabled individual.
An emergency often brings the relationship into the next stage. For example, the primary caregiver may start having health problems of their own while the disabled individual’s health continues to decline. Often, the caregiver feels stress from making promises to a disabled individual that they will not have to go into long-term care. At the same time, the caregiver is finding providing adequate care very stressful.
End-life stages can be very stressful on caregivers who often feel that they have not done enough. If you are that caregiver, remember that no emotion is wrong, and you can make intelligent choices when you choose to act rationally.
Going through these five stages can be joyful or hard. Seeking the help of a counselor often helps families get through it together.