When a family member is facing a serious illness, it is natural to think that you can do it all. Maybe you feel like you are the only person who knows what needs to be done and can do it right. Many caregivers have unrealistic expectations of themselves and how much they can give. They end up burning out and potentially damaging their own health and wellbeing.
As the realities of daily caregiving start to add up, most people realize they need help. Yet asking for help is not easy. Sometimes the people that you want to ask (your siblings, adult children, etc.) are so involved with their own lives, they don’t realize how much you actually need them. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength, self-awareness, and responsibility. It shows that you recognize the overwhelming challenges associated with caregiving and that you are willing to take concrete action to make sure your loved one has the best possible care.
Don’t wait for a crisis.
Sometimes we don’t realize how much we need help until a crisis happens. Suddenly, plans and intentions fall apart and we find ourselves falling apart too. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, recognize that it likely will and that the time to start asking for help is now. When you are not in crisis mode, you are able to draw from many more resources and develop a solid plan for long-term help.
Who can you ask?
Help can come from many places. Family and friends are often the first people we turn to, and they can offer a special level of personal support and caring. For some purposes, professional organizations or community groups are the best fit. You may be surprised when you start researching the variety of groups that exist to help caregivers- from support groups, to homecare organizations, to transportation services, to meal delivery.
How can they help?
Once you have a willing helper, you need to figure out what tasks to hand over to them. For some tasks, it may feel like more trouble to teach someone else how to do them than it is to just continue doing them yourself. While it is normal to feel this way, people who take the time to organize and delegate tasks find that in the long run it saves a tremendous amount of time and energy that they can dedicate to more pressing matters.
It is helpful to make a list of all of the things that need to be done, and also of the talents and skills of your friends, family, and community. Be as specific as possible. What task would you most like help with? Do you need someone to do the weekly grocery shopping, or take over dealing with the insurance company? Maybe what you need more than anything is some time for yourself so that you can attend a weekly yoga class or get your errands done. Ask for someone who can sit with your loved one each day from 4-6pm so you can get some much needed self-care.
What to do if they say no.
Asking others for help inevitably means that eventually, someone will say no. Be gracious when others are unable to help, and thank them for the consideration. Maintaining outside relationships can be difficult for caregivers and burning bridges can increase feelings of isolation and sadness. Perhaps this person will be available to help in the future, or with a different type of task. Instead of becoming resentful, stay focused on your goal of getting help for you and your loved one.
Cranberry Home Care offer a wide-range of senior care services, including cooking, bathing, light housekeeping, toileting, pet care transportation, and more… And, the added benefit of home care is that the frequency and duration of the caregiving visits can be tailored to your family member’s needs.