Today’s blog comes courtesy of Jason Lewis at Strongwell.com, a website dedicated to the health and wellness of those 55+.
Taking care of seniors is important work, although it is often far from easy. As rewarding as making a difference in the lives of others can be, you might occasionally find yourself feeling burnt out. Perhaps you’re caring for an aging relative or other loved one, or maybe you’re a paid LPN who takes care of seniors each day as part of your career. Whatever the case may be, you might sometimes find yourself feeling unfulfilled or unhappy. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are several things you can do to bring the joy back into the compassionate work you’ve been doing.
- First, don’t feel like you have to do it all. You’re only one person, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you start to feel overwhelmed. Know that it is absolutely okay to ask for help from others when you need it. Make a list of people in your life who could help you. Depending upon your unique situation, this list might include LPNs, relatives, friends, co-workers, your children , or licensed professionals - just to name a few. As the saying says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” so there will be times when you’ll need to delegate tasks to others while you focus on your own self care.
- Beyond just knowing your resources and who you can turn to for help, there are also several things you can do to reduce stress and make the most of your time as a senior caregiver. If you’re a long-distance caregiver, getting face-to-face with the person you are caring for can build rapport and promote compassion, empathy, and a sense of purpose. Even if you live in the same city as the person you are caring for, it can be helpful to make the experience more light-hearted and build a deeper relationship with the person. Even if the senior you are caring for has dementia, there might be ways to get creative with storytelling, humor, compassion and even reminiscing on the “good ole days” whenever possible. Do this as much as you can, as it will make the experience less frightening and more enjoyable for both of you.
- Also keep in mind that growing old and having declining health is probably very scary for your loved one. Chances are, he or she feels vulnerable. You both are in this situation together and you are probably even feeling some of the same emotions. This knowledge can help you maintain compassion and empathy on the difficult days, and find common ground and understanding during the tough times.
Caring for seniors is one of the most empathetic and meaningful things we can do during our lifetimes. Next time you’re feeling unfulfilled, go easy on yourself but know that there are several steps you can take to make caregiving more rewarding. It will increase your daily happiness and will also have a profoundly positive impact not only on your life, but also in the life of the senior you’ve been helping.
- Jason Lewis, Strongwell.org
If the stress of caregiving reaches a boiling point and/or you notice that your relationship with your loved one is changing from one of family and love to one of duty and maintenance, it might be time to have a conversation about the possibility of moving to a senior community. These communities, regardless of care level (independent living, assisted living, and memory care) take on a lot of the household duties caregivers normally perform when their loved one is living alone at home or with their family. Laundry, housekeeping, help with activities of daily living (dressing, bathing, etc.), and medication assistance can all be done by caring and compassionate caregivers in a community like Vantage Point’s Arcadia at Limerick Pointe, for example. From our experience, we find that, contrary to some opinions, relationships between adult child and parent are strengthened when the burdens of caregiving are lifted. When a senior moves to a retirement community, families are able to spend quality time with each other rather than doing around the house, driving to appointments and running errands.