Overcoming Caregiver Challenges

No matter how much you love them, little else in life tests family boundaries and challenges your sanity quite like caregiving. Taking care of another human being is already difficult work for a number of reasons.  It can be physically challenging, emotionally demanding, financially taxing, and psychologically draining to be a caregiver. The responsibility can take a toll on your relationships with co-workers, your spouse, friends, and other acquaintances.  Throw in the “family” wrench, and things can really get ugly.  Becoming a caregiver changes things dramatically.  Caregiving for a family member, and at times, doing so in coordination with other family members, takes this already life-altering change to the next level.

Having said that, caring for a family member in this manner isn’t always a recipe for disaster!  In fact, if you and your relatives have the level of maturity, acceptance, flexibility, and compassion necessary to approach the situation with grace, then caregiving for a family member can be one of the most rewarding journeys your family has ever embarked on together.  It can truly be a time of blessing, bonding, growth, and honor. Always keep this in mind as you embrace this new stage in your family’s development – especially in those tense moments that are sure to come.

Call in the forces; Find strength in numbers!

Too often as a caregiver you believe you are on this journey alone.  Or as the designated person to lead caregiving for a critically ill family member you see yourself as “in charge” and that means you do it all!  Big mistake and one that will cost you your sanity and the grace you need to deal with the challenges ahead!  This is not a time to withdraw and take all responsibilities upon your own shoulders.  It is time to grab the hands of those reaching out to you!  Many times you don’t know how to do that effectively.  Here are some ideas that will help.

Be willing and vulnerable to share your fears and needs.  This is not a point of weakness but of strength.  In your humility you will find tremendous strength of character.  There are many who would find it a blessing to be there for you.  (Our next blog will share with you how to develop your help network.) Here are some ideas you may want to think about when people ask how they can help you:

  1. Preparing Meals
  2. Household Chores – mowing the lawn, going grocery shopping, cleaning the house
  3. Doing online research on a topic you need additional information on
  4. A handyman to do a few repairs that have been left undone
  5. A night to yourself
  6. Help with picking up prescriptions, kids, health care items, etc.

Most people are asking because they really want to help you.  You need to keep in mind that they are receiving something far greater than what they are giving to you; they are receiving the blessing and satisfaction of doing something important for another person they care about.  Don’t deny them that pleasure and say “Yes!” when they ask if they can do something to help you!  You don’t always have to be the giver.  There are far greater blessings you give to others when you agree to accept their heartfelt generosity and allow them to give to you!