How do I give more effort to caring for my elderly parents when I feel burnt out?

Follow
Share
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
2

Answers

Show:
You are human. Nothing will change that. You have limitations and cannot do it all. Breathe.
You are not failing your parents. You are doing what you can and probably more. You are a huge blessing to your parents.
Listen to Elizabeth. She knows.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

This is the 64 Million Dollar Question. I can only tell you what I've figured out so far, after two years and eight months of caregiving. I always feel like there must be more and better answers to the question--answers that I haven't yet had the imagination/empathy/intelligence to see. But maybe not. Yesterday my father moved into assisted living. Today I'm wandering around our empty-feeling house, crying and wondering who I am now and whether I really did all I could have done.

Well.

1. Get all the help you can. Siblings, friends, organizations, kind strangers... This sounds crazy, but I used to turn away from some offers of help just *because* I felt so isolated. I thought, "This person has no idea what my life is like now, they don't understand me, so I don't want them around." One example was a close friend who always used to say, "Tell me when you can sneak away for a while, and we'll go do something fun." She didn't understand that I didn't *want* to "sneak away", that I was caring for my Dad because he is my heart and I love him more than anything in the world. Caregiving wasn't some chore that was being imposed on me, that I wanted to wriggle out of whenever possible. And she was mistaken to think that being away from him meant I could switch off my feelings and just have fun.

Later I realized that my friend didn't 'get' what caregiving is really like, and she didn't understand how I felt--but that didn't mean she couldn't offer support. She could help me with errands, sit with Dad for 2 hours so I could go to the dentist, bring over food when I was too exhausted to cook. She could joke around with me. And sometimes we could go do 'fun' things like see a movie or go out for coffee, even though she didn't understand exactly how I felt about it.

2. Try to take at least an hour for yourself every day. People will tell you to do things that "recharge" you, like going to the gym or listening to music without interruption. The truth is, those things won't really be enough to recharge you. You will feel bone-tired, even after 8 hours' sleep. But still, taking that hour to focus on yourself *will* help. The activities are good in themselves, plus they'll help you remember who you are, apart from your role as a caregiver.

3. Try to be present in the moment. It's hard, but try to avoid taking on responsibility for this whole year or week, or even the whole day. Do your best with the moment you're coping with right now. Of course on some level you have to plan and organize for tomorrow, but do what you can to let yourself off that hook. Read books by John Kabat-Zinn.

4. If there's something creative that you can work on within the limitations of your current life-situation, do it. That probably means something that you can do alone. Write, paint, play guitar...

5. Talk with someone who knows you well, and who appreciates all the stuff you've achieved so far in your life. Have conversations about those things. The goal is to remember that there is more to you than just the caregiver that you are now. Your current life situation doesn't define who you are.

Hope this helps. I wish you peace.
-elizabeth
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions