Home Caregivers and Motivation
Caregivers are spouses, relatives, or friends who provide daily care for persons who have physical or mental health problems. As a caregiver, you will care for people with all kinds of diseases and disabilities.
Caregivers are special. While caregiving can be satisfying, it can also be stressful and demanding. Caregivers take on the task because they love the patient, are the only person who can help, or because they feel obligated.
There are many stresses you face as a caregiver. These include giving comfort, overcoming physical challenges, and being “on the job” 24 hours a day. Caregiving is physically and emotionally exhausting.
There are many caregiving activities, including giving injections and medications, providing support to the medical team, and assisting with toileting, bathing, dressing, and feeding. You may be responsible for cooking, doctors’ appointments, and even maintaining the home. Because of the workload, stress and burnout are serious problems.
What Caregivers Must Understand
A caregiver must understand that his or her mental and physical needs are inseparable. Stress affects your physical health. You need emotional support and periodic relief from your responsibilities.
Support for Caregivers
Family and friends are crucial sources of help. The first step is to tell friends and family that help is needed. Keep a list of errands and needed services. When someone offers to help, give a specific, time-limited task. This is more effective than asking someone to “stop by” when they have a moment.
Call to request support from a religious or support group or local service agency.
Some sources of support:
Health and Home Care Society of BC- www.carebc.ca: Offers programs such as Meals on Wheels, The Family Respite Centre, Community Integration and Health Promotion Services.
When a Caregiver Needs Help
If you experience crying, sleeplessness, moodiness, anger, medical problems, resentment, or depression, you need help. These symptoms call for more assistance, respite, and help from a professional counselor.
Adult day programs or respite care, suggestions from an occupational therapist, household help, and help with doctor’s appointments make caregiving less stressful. When the patient attends an adult day program or stays with a respite caregiver, you get relief from responsibilities. An occupational therapist can ease physical demands on you by suggesting home adaptations, such as lifts, grab bars, ramps, wheelchairs, etc. Household help reduces the workload. If friends take the patient to doctors’ appointments, you’ll be able to get some rest or personal time. You must take care of your physical health. It’s important to get seven hours of sleep a night, eat a balanced diet, and exercise.
What Doesn’t Work
What doesn’t work is trying to do everything without help! This leads to burnout. The best way to avoid burnout is to get practical and emotional support. Ask for help!
Tips for Managing Stress
Draw on the resources and help of friends, family, and the community.
Continue enjoyable activities.
Become knowledgeable about the patient, resources, and the illness.
Take care of your own health.
Get recommendations from doctors and therapists regarding treatments, medications, and home adaptations.
Develop awareness of emotions and needs; join a support group.
Consult a therapist. Seek guidance of mental health professionals who specialize in caregiver stress. It is a growing field.
Caring for a loved one can be satisfying; it can also be stressful. Follow these recommendations to manage and relieve your caregiver stress.