November is National Family Caregivers Month
Every November, Gilchrist and other organizations across the country recognize and honor family caregivers who are caring for their loved ones with a serious illness.
Challenges for Caregivers
Many caregivers are faced with caring for loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The challenges are numerous: not only are individuals caring for a loved one but, in most cases, they are also caring for a family, working full-time and trying to take care of themselves.
Some of the challenges they face are:
- Emotional and physical exhaustion: it is emotionally stressful caring for someone when we are pulled in many directions
- Diminished caring: we have no space left to care
- A sense of personal failure: the demands become burdens instead of challenges
- Isolation: our life is on hold, friends and family may “forget you”
- Confusion: we may feel good at times and at other times resentful
Tips for Caregivers
Here are some tips that can and will help relieve the stress of caregiving:
- Set your limits: it is okay to say no
- Know yourself: be honest with your thoughts and needs
- Respect your feelings: it is important to nurture those feelings in order to care for a loved one
- Practice patience: take one day at a time
- Ask for help: reach out to others for guidance and support
- Use humor to cope: laughter is the best medicine
- Focus on your accomplishments: it feels good to care for and help someone we love
- Practice relaxation techniques: meditate, journal, exercise
Finding Meaning and Reward
Although caring for a loved one is not easy, you may come to find that it is the most meaningful thing you have ever done. Many family caregivers say they feel a deep sense of commitment walking with their loved one on this journey and doing for them what they cannot do for themselves.
If we accept the challenges, as well as accept what we cannot do, and focus on our accomplishments, we will find that caring for someone we love is rewarding and inspiring. It is the gift of love.
For information on how Gilchrist Counseling and Support can help support caregivers, please call 888-823-8880 or visit gilchristcares.org/counseling-support.