Your Guide to When Looking After Elderly Loved Ones Gets Too Stressful
Age can be unkind to your loved ones, especially when you are dealing with situations like dementia, or mentally impairing conditions like strokes, that leave the person in a state that leaves them prone to confusion. But just the normal rigors of age can have enough of an effect that it can put a strain on your relationship with your loved ones.
Sometimes it is merely the change from being self-sufficient to being dependent on the help of another that causes them to become difficult. It can be entirely down to you having to deal with the fact that they are no longer the person you remember that causes the upset.
The causes are myriad, and the manifestation of the problem are unique to each and every situation. There is relief though, and there are solutions to the stress that you feel.
Do you know exactly what to expect from your relative and their condition? Do you understand how things may progress, and are you prepared for what you may have to do at each step of the journey?
Sometimes the biggest source of stress for a carer can be the degree of uncertainty that they have about what is happening and how bad it might get. You may be having some difficulty currently, and then you start imagining the worst, and it starts to seem very bleak. This is not a good track to go down, and may result in you losing all hope.
Start finding out about the condition, and see if there is anything that you can do to alleviate certain symptoms. If it makes your relative’s life easier it is going to make your life easier. It is unlikely that you are going through something that no one else has gone through, and while not all of their advice will be pertinent, some of it may totally handle something in your life that you have been crushed by.
There is also some education to be had on how to be a carer. Just because you love someone and want to care for them, it doesn’t mean that you are going to be free from stress and doubt. You need to make sure that you take care of yourself as well, and you need to find ways to deal with the stress and upset that you are going to feel. Again – the great thing is that many others will have some understanding of how you are feeling and they may be able to point you in the right direction.
Look For The Good Things That Happened
You may reach a point where you feel that it is easier to focus on all the bad things that have happened and all of the things that you have done wrong, but this is just going to drive your morale down. There are many ways available for easing caregiver guilt, and one really effective means is to look for the good things that happened.
Every day is going to be a mixture of good things and bad things – caring for someone is no different to everyday life in that regards. You know you are responsible for the welfare of another person, and that responsibility can often amplify any mistakes that you make. It is not easy to not be hard on yourself, and you may be dealing with a relative that is unforgiving of your errors. Most of the time it is not going to be as bad as it seems.
Sitting down at the end of the day and thinking about the meal that was enjoyed, the successful visit, the well executed toilet visit, can help you gain a better perspective of how the day went. Each victory, no matter how small, is just that – a victory. Getting to the end of the day unscathed or at least intact can be something you pat yourself on the back for.
If you really look at it, you are doing more good with your help than you are doing damage, and that really does count for something. If your loved one is able to express their gratitude this is great, but just because they don’t, do you really think they would rather persist without your help.
Have A Support Network
Some people can get caught up in the idea that they have to go it alone, and that looking after someone is their sole responsibility. This is something that can cause you problems in the long run. You need to be able to take care of yourself, and you need some time for yourself when you are not caring for someone else.
Caring for someone is a very dedicated and involved job, and if you are the only person with responsibility for the loved one it can be a very isolating experience. Dealing with loneliness and depression while looking after someone is just going to make everything that much harder.
This is something that it is very important to put in place. If you have a big family with lots of relatives this is obviously going to be a lot easier, but there are organisations that can help you, and you don’t have to necessarily spend a lot of money to get this help.
Having friends who are going through the same thing, who can lend you an ear and offer advice are invaluable. Even if it is hard to physically get out there, there are now a lot of these groups online. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
It is an eventuality that we will all get old, and making a decision to look after an elderly loved one is a full time commitment. It is understandable that looking after someone else, no matter what condition they are in, can be something that takes a lot of energy, and which may leave you feeling pretty tired and vulnerable at the end of the day.
The great news is that there are resources that are available that can help you to learn how to better cope, and which can offer you relief. If you look after yourself you will be better able to look after your loved one, and reducing your stress is a great step in the right direction.