When you’re the primary caregiver juggling your aging parent’s increasing needs with the rest of your life, you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of stress, guilt, and worry. Caregivers frequently become buried in bills, appointments, pills, and meals on top of their already busy lives. It can become difficult to function.
It’s easy to wonder—is this normal? Isn’t this just what everyone else with an aging parent is doing, too?
The answer is no. While caregiving will always have hard days, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to live with constant stress and worry. The best thing you can do for your loved one is to keep yourself physically and emotionally healthy. Take time to consider each of the questions below to gauge your health level.
1. How is your life satisfaction?
- When you think about your life as it is now, do you feel pleased with how you spend your time, or does it seem like your time is never your own these days?
- Do you typically end the day satisfied with what you were able to do, or was your day driven by the needs of others, particularly the parent for whom you care?
- As you think back on your past few weeks, do you have a general feeling of happiness because you were able to enjoy the hobbies and activities you love? Or have you had to largely set those aside in lieu of caregiving activities?
If these questions trend towards low life satisfaction, you may be giving too much time to caregiving. Often, people who sacrifice quality of living for caregiving can grow bitter and resentful, which can damage their relationships with the people they are giving care to. In order to protect your relationships, it is best to look for other care options for your loved one.
2. How is your physical health and energy?
Frequently, people who are spending a great deal of time and energy on another person’s health find themselves with little time or energy to mind their own health.
- Have you had weight gain or loss?
- Do you find yourself eating less healthy than you would like?
- Have you turned to alcohol or other substances to help you cope with your stress?
- Are you able to exercise and be active the way you want?
- Do you have good energy levels, or do you find yourself relying on coffee or energy drinks to get through the day?
It’s understandable that it is harder to care for your own health when you’re so busy caring for someone else’s.
However, will you really be able to give them quality care if you become seriously ill?
It’s essential that you care well for your own physical health. If caring for your loved one prevents you from doing that, you are doing both of you a disservice by not calling in extra help. You both deserve a high quality of living.
3. Do your responsibilities complement or conflict with one another?
While it’s unrealistic to expect all of life’s responsibilities to fall neatly into organized timetables, it’s not unrealistic or wrong to set up healthy boundaries in your life so work doesn’t conflict with family, yard work doesn’t conflict with time with friends, and caregiving doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all other responsibilities in your life.
If you find that caregiving frequently causes you to feel torn between providing care and being available for family, friends, or work, it may be a good idea to consider other care options. Caregiving shouldn’t cause you regular stress in all areas of your life.
4. How are your relationships?
This is perhaps the most important question to consider, because healthy relationships are essential for a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, many caregivers find themselves sacrificing relationships with their friends and even their own children due to the constant, careful attention their aging loved ones need. What’s even more unfortunate is that often this dynamic can erode a caregiver’s relationship with their loved one until both feel isolated, misunderstood, and alone.
You Both Deserve More.
More quality time with each other, more love, more joy, and more help. As children of aging parents ourselves, we’ve experienced first-hand the push and pull of independence, safety, and worry. That’s why we create a family-focused community that gives residents and their former caregivers a new lease on life so that the parent-child relationships can stay exactly that. And just as importantly, you get to feel like you again. We’re here to help. Schedule a tour today.