Are You Feeling Overwhelmed as a Caregiver?

Caregiver's Support

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed as a Caregiver?

Being a caregiver for an elderly loved one, while rewarding, can be extremely taxing. Between doctor’s appointments, medications, and life getting in the way, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Especially when dealing with an ailing loved one, caregiving often comes with a number of triggering, damaging emotions.

Maybe you feel guilty, like you could be doing more. Maybe you messed up, maybe something unavoidable happened -- now you’re riddled with “what if’s.” When guilt strikes, remember to set your caregiving standards to something realistic. You’re only human, and you’re only capable of doing so much. Nobody can truly be a perfect caregiver, at least not all the time. Though your intentions are good, your abilities and your time are limited, and it’s important to keep that in mind.

Maybe you’re feeling angry, wishing you could have your time back. It’s not uncommon to feel resentment, especially when you start comparing yourself to others who aren’t taking care of an elderly loved one. When feelings of resentment arise, take a step back from the situation, and be sure to address these feelings with a trusted person. Venting to another person or writing your feelings out can be cathartic. If your feelings of resentment are getting in the way of your caregiving duties, then it may be time to take a step back and take a break. Seek out an alternative option such as enrolling your loved one in an Adult Day Services program or splitting your caregiving duties with another trusted person.

Maybe you can’t stop worrying. If you find that you’re constantly anxious about what might happen if you’re not there for a second, especially if it’s getting in the way of your ability to get things done, then consider the following coping method. When you find thoughts of worry setting in, write them down, and then write down their positive counterpart. Instead of “What if mom falls?” focus on “Who can I call if something happens?” By being prepared and having plans in place for the various situations that worry you, you’ll ease your own anxiety.

Maybe you’re just exhausted. Have you found yourself not eating or sleeping? Have you stopped taking care of yourself? Are you feeling tired all the time? Caregiving is an around-the-clock job, and finding time to care for yourself simultaneously is extremely difficult. If you find that you’re exhibiting signs of extreme exhaustion, it may be time to consider asking for help.

Adult Day Services provide a safe, nurturing space for the elderly to socialize and stay active, which could leave you time to catch up on other much needed activities that you’ve been neglecting.

The first step to identifying whether you’re overwhelmed with your caregiving duties is to identify the emotions that you’re feeling and to try to come up with ways to channel your energy in a way that’s going to be productive and positive, for both you and your loved one. There’s no shame in admitting that you need help or that you can’t take on additional projects because you have too much on your plate. Here are a few tips for managing caregiver stress to ensure that you’re not getting burnt out:

  1. Don’t be afraid to say no when someone asks a favor. It’s okay not to accommodate every single person in your life. Prioritize what needs to be done, and don’t forget to occasionally prioritize your own needs.
  2. Get organized. Making lists, plans, and establishing a daily routine can help you be more efficient and get back some of the time in your day.
  3. Make time for yourself. Make an effort to connect with family and friends when possible, and take time to do things that you enjoy. Finding a creative outlet or hobby can be extremely helpful in managing the day to day stress of caregiving.
  4. Join a support group. Networking with other caregivers can be extremely helpful, as you’ll surround yourself with people who truly understand your situation and can offer some insights into how they manage their own caregiving duties.
  5. Practice positive thinking. When you feel thoughts of negativity, stress, and doubt creep up, take a step back and flip them on their head, and try to find their positive counterpart.
  6. Take a break. Whether you entrust another family member with caregiving for a day or enroll your loved one in an Adult Day Service program, taking some time to truly focus on yourself can do wonders for de-stressing.

Caregiving can be one of the most rewarding jobs, though it can also be one of the most stressful. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, and it’s okay to admit that you can’t do it all. By thinking through every situation fully, seeking out positive alternatives, and taking breaks when necessary, you can ensure that you’re truly able to provide the best care not only for your loved one, but for yourself.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your caregiving duties, consider enrolling your loved on in an Adult Day Services Program. Northeast Adult Day Care is a reliable, affordable option that gives you back your time while ensuring a stimulating, safe environment for your loved one.

Written by Jacklin Altman for Northeast Adult Day Care.