Caring for Ourselves, The Caregivers

by Oct 21, 2011Caregiving Basics

It is extremely important for the caregiver to take good care of him or herself as well as the care-receivers.  CareGiving can be a thankless, exhausting job and it may seem selfish to take care of oneself when the care-receivers require so much attention.  To fail to do so, however, can be destructive.  Jesus said, “Love God….Love Neighbor…Love Self.”
The following guidelines are for care givers who feel overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, lonely, or like a “Caged Bird.”

  • Know your limits.  Do not take on more than you can handle emotionally, physically, financially or otherwise.
  • Ask for help from others.  Accept help from others.  Delegate some of the responsibilities.
  • Have realistic expectations.  Remember that you can not (usually) “fix” another person’s problems.  You are called to comfort – walk alongside that hurting person, and to listen.
  • Educate yourself about the care-receiver’s condition.
  • Help the person to help themselves and maintain their routine, and dignity as much as possible.
  • One of the most important things you provide to the one you take care of is emotional support.  A listening ear can work wonders for their morale.
  • Remember the basics that you need to be healthy and effective:
    Good nutrition
    Balance between work and refreshing time
    Spiritual Energy (praying, Bible study, spiritual sharing, etc.)
  • Schedule regular times of RESPITE.  (Can members of your church, family or extended family or friends help?  Perhaps a home health aide, home health companion, a private duty nurse, adult foster care, or a short stay in a nursing home or assisted living are possibilities.)
  • Pray – as Jesus did, get away, be quiet and pray and remember that a vital part of prayer is listening.
  • Ask others to pray for you.
  • Have a sense of humor.  Laugh as much as you can.  Express anger, depression and other difficult feelings occasionally.
  • Keep a journal.  Write down your thoughts and feelings.
  • Repeat scriptures – find a meaningful Psalm and a personal “power verse.”
  • Simplify your life.
  • Be open so God can work.  (Keep giving your anxiety, fear, confusion to God.)
  • Treat yourself to something special.
  • Take pride in what you are accomplishing and applaud the courage it has taken sometimes to meet the needs of a hurting person.
  • Find a listening friend.
  • Consider being a part of a support group, or help form one if none is available.
  • Seek out a sincere “hugger.”  Sometimes the only thing that really helps to melt away our pain is a warm embrace.  As Leo Buscaglia says, “To put your arm about another or on a shoulder is a way of saying, ‘I see you,’ ‘ I feel with you,’ ‘I care.'”

For additional caregiving advice, refer to the following category on this website: “Caregiving Basics.”