“Family caregivers are a living paradox. Why would people who devote so much time and effort to taking care of someone else manage to give so little attention to themselves? I have a feeling that the reason lies somewhere between ‘the thought never crossed my mind because I just do whatever caregiving tasks I need to do’ and ‘being tired and on a time-crunch, given a choice between working out or preparing a gloriously nutritious meal and sleeping, I’ll take the comfy pillow, thank you very much!’”
“Quite often, our commitment to do good by serving others – be it through our profession or as a volunteer – consumes our focus, time and effort. While I’m all for working hard and doing our best, we must strive to find balance in our life. All of those long hours, spent riveted to whatever keeps us busy all day or running from here to there as we juggle tasks and commitments, need “an equal and opposite reaction” to maintain an equilibrium. It is when the scale of sensibility tips too much in any direction that we begin to feel overwhelmed, trapped or exhausted – physically and mentally.”
As I recently read the above post on a caregiving website blog, I thought to myself, this applies not only to me and my profession as a geriatric care manager, but to a lot of my friends who are now caring for their elderly parents or sandwiched between caring for their children AND their aging loved ones. How often I have thought of a dear friend of mine who is basically a prisoner in her own home due to the overwhelming guilt she feels if she does anything for herself – and that includes going to the grocery store!
It does not have to be that way.
You are not alone! You are one of an estimated 44 million in the US!
The Tennessee Respite Coalition can provide caregivers with much-needed time to rest, re-energize and reconnect with themselves. When I speak to caregiver support groups I always work in the analogy about flying on an airplane. The flight attendants demonstrate that if the overhead oxygen masks are deployed, “Please place your mask on first and then assist those who are not able to assist themselves.” You can’t very well help anyone else if you are passed out from lack of oxygen – and it’s the same for caregivers. If you don’t take care of yourself and your own needs, how can you possibly give the best care to a loved one?
The emotional tolls of being a full-time caregiver are substantial. We all know that. The guilt, the frustration, the lack of support from other family members … the list goes on and on. The Tennessee Respite Coalition can assist you, and give you the peace of mind that you do not have to feel guilty about taking care of yourself. It is imperative to you, your well-being, the well-being of your family and the loved one you are caring for.
I also encourage caregivers to turn to your faith for support. We remind family caregivers that they are not alone and to reassure them that they are not the only person bearing such tremendous responsibilities. Faith reminds us that we are not alone in our struggle to manage our duties, for someone greater than all of us is steering the way forward. If you have faith, someone’s got your back.
– Suzanne Wyatt, GCM, TRC Board Member