Anyone in the midst of acting as a primary caregiver for a senior parent will be all too familiar with the physical, mental, and emotional toll that those duties take. Stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, and exhaustion are only a few of the ailments that impact many caregivers. And these pressures only mount for the “Sandwich Generation”: people caring for both senior parents and children of their own. But when a caregiver’s well-being wanes, their ability to provide adequate care also suffers. If you feel physically, mentally, or emotionally overwhelmed, follow these tips for caregivers.
It’s impossible to get help if you don’t recognize your own stress. As a caregiver, monitor yourself for these symptoms:
- Persistent exhaustion;
- Getting sick more frequently;
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Withdrawing from others; or
- Having trouble enjoying pleasant activities.
If you notice yourself facing these issues, you may want to find support to alleviate the stress you feel.
As a caregiver for both senior parents and young children, it is only natural to feel isolated, as though you are alone in supporting an entire family. This feeling of isolation often leads to other adverse emotions like anger, guilt, fear, or sadness. Fortunately, there are support groups all across Canada that let you connect with empathetic people in similar situations. The Family Caregiver is an example of a Canadian resource that gives caregivers, like yourself, access to tangible solutions for your questions. The Caregiver Network is another source that offers access to support groups and resources, allowing you to connect with others, while finding the support you need in the process. These groups are examples of communities that open you up to other caregivers that are going through the same stresses as you are, and can help to alleviate some of this stress.
Providing care for your loved ones is important, but, like any task, you can only sustain it for so long before you begin to face fatigue. Make sure to schedule time for yourself so that you can foster the relationships beyond caregiving.
In tandem with the personal time above, use time for yourself to maintain your physical wellbeing. Maintaining exercise, healthy eating, and regular sleep patterns will improve both your physical and emotional fitness, letting you better care for your loved ones.
No matter your efforts at self-care, acting as a caregiver can sometimes simply be too much, especially for the Sandwich Generation. A Personal Support Worker can provide professional care for your senior parent in their own home, affording you, the caregiver, much needed respite. In effect, Personal Support Workers provide both care for loved ones and caregivers.