Keeping In Touch Solutions
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caregiver for aging parents

3 Ways to Reduce Caregiver Stress

As a caregiver, what’s your day like? I mean, really like? When I talk to caregivers of aging loved ones, this is what I hear:

  • I get up and start to worry. I start by getting my family fed and making sure Mom is eating at her house, too. I am putting together breakfast for us while I am on the phone helping Mom decide what she is going to eat. It’s like herding cats into two different pens.
  • Every time my personal cell phone rings during the day I tense up and immediately dig it out of my purse or pocket – it’s always close. I’m afraid it’s someone telling me Mom has fallen or something is wrong. I do feel like I am on constant alert, and it’s exhausting.
  • I haven’t had lunch with co-workers for a long, long time. During my lunch hour I run through some drive-thru and gulp down some junk food. I finish just before reaching Mom’s place where we sit and chat for 20 minutes or so. I say chat, but often it’s not a conversation. Mom’s sour temperament and disposition presents in a litany of complaints, accusations and, well, sometimes she is just mean to me. But I still go see her every day. Actually, I’m afraid to miss a day because then she will be really angry and even meaner. I don’t understand why she doesn’t see or appreciate the efforts I make.
  • My boss has been dropping hints lately suggesting I consider taking a family leave from work. He doesn’t understand that I can’t afford to do that. I am paying expenses for my elderly Mom and Dad, so every penny I make is earmarked for something. I’m worried that he thinks I am not doing my job or that my performance is slipping. Honestly, I don’t have the time or energy to figure it out, I just have to keep getting up, going to work and doing the best that I can.

Caregiving is not easy, but it comes from the heart.

I can feel the intensity of the emotions and stress caregivers have when they call Keeping In Touch Solutions. I listen to them and hear their sighs. It’s intense. If you are a caregiver, you understand, I’m sure. I know because I was there, too.

Not only is caregiving demanding on time and energy, but it also is a tightrope emotionally. Walking that line to balance your family, work, aging loved ones wants and needs, and then find some time to nourish your soul is seemingly impossible.

In reality, balance is un-achievable. Let me say that again: NO ONE CAN ACHIEVE BALANCE IN EVERYTHING.

It’s true. Some days you need to give your family more than work or your aging parents. On other days, work may take precedence and then other days Mom and Dad are your priority. That’s how it really works. You can’t designate one-third of your day to each portion of your life and stay in that rigid structure. And, if you try, it just makes everything worse and you are more stressed.

So, I have 3 tips to reduce the stress in your caregiving life to make it not only more manageable for you, but less of a drain on your emotions.

No. 1 – “Invest” your time. Change your mindset from thinking you are “spending” your time to “investing” your time. When you invest in something, you are aware of the payoff. You go into a situation with a little different expectation. For example, investing in time with Mom and Dad as they get older and need help produces memories. Whereas spending time sets you up to counting minutes – how much time can I afford to spend? Investing in yourself through diet and exercise has a payoff that benefits more than just you, but those around you, too. You don’t have to choose how to “spend” your time, but what you want to invest in for yourself and those you love.

No. 2 – Set boundaries. Caregivers are often caregivers because they care. They want to help and support, and will go to extreme measures to do so. They want everyone to be happy and so they give, give, give. They set themselves up because after so long, everyone just expects them to give it all and do it all. Resentment and anger builds up because eventually they feel like no one appreciates all the effort, care and concern they provide. Take for instance the Mother who is “mean” and unappreciative. When there are boundaries set and consistently applied, Mom will learn when she crosses the line. If the daughter says she will not accept verbal abuse from Mom and will leave if she is treated that way, and then follows through with the boundary, there is a greater chance of change in Mom.

No. 3 – Get help. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Enlist family to help with household responsibilities. You might have to adjust a few expectations and standards – the towels may not be folded the way you prefer, or the chicken may be a little anemic and flat-tasting – but in the larger scope, those are things you can live with. Declining health because you bear the brunt of all responsibility and chores is something you may not be able to live with…just saying. For Mom and Dad, you can subscribe to a daily check-in call through Keeping In Touch Solutions. Someone is talking with them every day in person and that can make a world of difference to them, and for you. That doesn’t mean you don’t call or touch base with them, but you won’t feel guilty when you lie down at night and realize you hadn’t called that day.

Being a caregiver is something that is on your heart, I know that. You want to be there and do everything you can to be sure life is good for those you love. But if you are stressed, physically and emotionally drained, and living on the edge, you aren’t going to be effective in YOUR life. And your life includes all of those people, your career, your health, and happiness.

A daily check-in call could be the lifeline, the joy you give someone that makes the biggest difference in their perception of what old age is like.

Contact me at 317-480-1038 today. Let’s make a difference together.

diana beam

I’m Diana Beam, Founder of Keeping in Touch Solutions. It is my heartfelt desire for every person to live a happy and healthy life in the place they call home, no matter what their age. You can’t put a price on peace of mind for your parents and yourself. It’s priceless . . . and significant.

For that reason, the goal of every Keeping In Touch Solutions program is to provide a caring connection and service that both the elderly and their caregivers can rely on to make living that good life easier.

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