The Empowered Caregiver: Learning to Accept Help

AdobeStock_387670603-300x200In the first post in this series, we covered a few of the most important “big-picture” skills and knowledge that will help you build a strong foundation for your caregiving. This second installment of this 4-part series is about the importance of accepting that you can’t do everything yourself and learning to accept help from others.

Far too many caregivers back themselves into a very stressful corner by assuming that they need to do it all. It’s easy, when you’re already feeling overwhelmed, to overlook opportunities to accept support from family, community, or professional providers. But if you stop and really look at what’s available to you, you might be surprised.

Give people the chance to help. 

While you might have a very small circle of folks who are able to take on the heavy lifting of being a caregiver, there are many more people who would love to help in small ways that actually make a big difference. 

This can be as simple as having your children take on some minor household chores like taking out the trash or folding the laundry. It can also mean a neighbor who picks your kids up from school, or a co-worker who covers a professional obligation. 

There are many ways people can make your life easier, even if they aren’t directly involved in caring for your loved one.

Hire help when possible. 

There are only so many hours in a day. If you’ve taken on a lot of caregiving responsibilities, it’s likely that some of your other responsibilities have fallen by the wayside. This can leave you feeling additional stress because things aren’t getting done. 

If you have the means, consider hiring help to handle certain tasks. For example, hiring a professional service to clean your house every two weeks or even once a month can lower your anxiety and make your home more comfortable so you can relax when you’re there. Or, consider meal preparation and delivery services (either for your loved one or your own family).  They can be a really smart investment that saves you time and ensures everyone is getting the right kind of nutrition.

Ask your employer for flexibility at work.

Both parenting and caregiving come with the unavoidable need for time off from work — coming in late, leaving early, or simply not being there at all — both planned and unexpected. When this is a frequently recurring need, worry about job security can take a big toll. 

While it can be intimidating to have a frank conversation with your employer, it’s almost always better to have that talk sooner rather than later. In some cases, your employer might even have existing policies in place.

Consider what other resources might be available to you.

PeopleConnect-300x300Outside of family, friends, and colleagues, there are many different kinds of professional caregiving support services that can help take some of the burden off your shoulders. In addition to in-home professional caregivers who can help with a variety of tasks, you may want to look into whether a geriatric care manager might be able to help you draft a care plan that will save you time and money. 

There are nonprofit planning agencies such as local Agency on Aging offices as well as many organizations that can help caregivers find professional help, navigate specific challenges, access resources (like housing and transportation), use technology to your best advantage, and connect with other caregivers for tips and support. 

Embrace the power of community.

Accepting help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, recognizing your own limitations is a smart strategy for preventing burnout. If you give people a chance, they will help alleviate some of the overwhelming responsibilities that come with caregiving. Embracing support and assistance can make a significant difference in your well-being and the quality of care you provide for your aging parent.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our series, where we will delve into effective strategies for collaborating with family members in the caregiving journey.

Related Posts:

The Empowered Caregiver-Part 1

33 Resources to Help Caregivers

3 Respite Programs So You Can Take a Break

Long-Distance Caregiving: 3 Tips for Reducing Day-to-Day Stress

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