Are You the Caregiver-in-Charge?
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
If most of the caregiving duties for an elderly or ill family member fall on you, you’re the caregiver-in-charge. As William Shakespeare famously wrote, “Heavy lies the head that wears the crown.”
The caregiver-in-charge experiences issues others in the family may not be aware of. There’s the physical act(s) of caregiving if the patient is at home. The management of the patient’s care if they’re in a hospital or nursing home. The many needs of your own family. Your job.
However, caregivers say that it’s often the emotional and informational aspects of caregiving that make this time in your life difficult.
You’re expected to have all the answers about your loved one’s illness and the outlook of their treatment. You’re also the person others turn to for support when they are grieving.
There’s no manual for caregivers
You have to make it clear to family members that you do not have all the answers. This is best accomplished when you admit, to yourself, that you do not have all the answers. We put a lot of stress on ourselves to know what to do next in times of crisis.
Negative emotions are normal
Feeling angry and sad about what you are going through is normal. Wearing all the caregiving hats is not easy.
It's OK to not be OK
Keeping emotions bottled up doubles the burden you already carry as a caregiver. You can and should ask for help. Hospital and hospice social workers and nurses are good sources of support. A senior center in your community may hold educational events for families. Don’t be shy. Go.
This too shall pass
University of Utah Psychologist R.G. Tedeschi published findings from his research on grief in the July-August 2020 issue of the Harvard Business Review. “People confronted with fear and loss often become better at noticing what they may have overlooked,” he wrote. “Many caregivers report more satisfaction with the relationships they still have.”
Flex your superpowers
Advocating for your loved one and yourself will change you. Use those skills in other areas of your life or help other caregivers by sharing what you’ve learned online.
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