In normal times, many people turn to long-term care facilities to care for their aging loved ones. After all, these facilities are generally best equipped to handle memory issues and serious health needs from moment to moment. However, these are not normal times, and during the time of COVID-19, many are choosing to take care of loved ones themselves rather than calling on a home care worker or enlisting the help of a long-term care facility. I know this because this is a decision that my family made for my mother who needed care. In fact, I was the one who went back home to care for her.
If, like me, you decided to take care of your loved one at home, you may be experiencing what is called “caregiver stress.” No matter how much you love the individual you’re taking care of, and I loved my mother dearly, the duty can result in physical and emotional exhaustion for yourself. After six weeks, I found it difficult to continue the 24-hour care I was providing to my mom. This left me feeling frustrated and guilty. After all, my mother cared for me when I was a child – how could I not care for her now when she needed me most? Many nights, I would cry myself to sleep, wondering how I would have the energy to get through one more day. I did not want these issues to put a strain on the loving relationship that I had with my mother.
If you are a caregiver who’s tired beyond your breaking point, you will not be able to continue to care for someone else. However, following a few of these steps so you can take care of yourself will go a long way to help you maintain a healthy relationship with your loved one.
Know you’re doing your best.
Understand your emotional and physical limits and know that you’re doing the best you can. Right now, your relationship with your aging loved one may look different than it usually does, and that’s okay!
Be willing to accept help.
Occasionally, as the main caregiver, you may experience burnout, and accepting help is important. You may have family members who want to help. As long as they also follow guidelines or live with you, you should accept help when you need it.
If you’re comfortable with reaching out for professional help, research home health care workers and arrange for care every now and then. Just make sure the provider is trained in and adheres to CDC safety guidelines. I will admit that this was very hard for me to do, as I felt that I was the only one who could take care of my mother the way she needed. However, once I let others help me, I realized that having these breaks allowed me to be strong and a better caregiver when I was the one doing it.
Seek out additional support.
Explore online and find support groups for those who are caring for elderly parents or loved ones. Sites like caregiver.org or Facebook support groups can provide much needed strength and resources, as you will understand that you’re not alone.
Create moments for self-care.
The COVID-19 situation won’t last forever, but in the meantime, finding time to do what brings you joy will enable you to do what’s most important: caring for your loved one. Whether this means calling or video chatting with a friend, taking a walk, reading a book, or something else, make space to take care of yourself.
Turn to Friedman Elder Law
Caregiver burnout is very emotional, and accepting professional help can be expensive. Don’t let this add to your stress. At Friedman Elder Law Department, we may be able to help your loved one qualify for government benefits, such as Medicaid and/or veteran benefits, to help pay for the help you need to avoid caregiver burnout. Explore our website to learn more about our practice areas and call us to schedule a consultation. Know that we are here to help you through this time, as we have been there ourselves.