Adjusting to life after caregiving can be a little more challenging than people imagine. The role of caregiver, while often physically and emotionally exhausting, is also rewarding. Knowing you are making a difference in a loved one’s life gives you a sense of purpose.
Moving on after caregiving is a process. This transition will require patience, healthy self-care, and time to figure out how to spend your days.
When Caregiving Ends
Whether your senior loved one passes away or moves to an assisted living community, or another family member assumes the role of caregiver, you’ll no doubt experience a range of emotions.
A few emotions frequently experienced after caregiving duties end include:
- Sadness: Caring for a cherished senior may have been exhausting and sometimes even embarrassing. That’s why former family caregivers are often surprised to find themselves sad when they no longer have that one-on-one time.
- Guilt: Family caregivers commonly struggle with this emotion long after their duties end. Sometimes the caregiver feels guilty because they resented the impact the caregiving role had on their life. Other times the guilt is due to concern that they weren’t meeting their loved one’s needs. Making peace is essential for moving on.
- Grief: It’s also vital for caregivers to know that they may feel grief even if the senior is still alive. An adult child whose parent has moved to a memory care community, for example, will struggle with the loss of the life their senior loved one once led. And the loss of what might have been had the disease not entered their life.
Understand that the days after caregiving can be an emotional roller coaster. The key to working through it is being patient and kind to yourself.
After Caregiving Ends
Here are a few tips for how to recover after being a caregiver:
- Catch up on rest: It’s fairly common for family caregivers to be sleep-deprived and physically exhausted. Give yourself time to relax and sleep. When you feel better physically, you may be able to better cope with difficult emotions.
- Reach out and reconnect: Because of the demands on their schedule, caregivers often give up their favorite hobbies and social groups. They may also lose touch with friends. As you recover after being a caregiver, start to reach out to friends and resume your social activities.
- Practice healthy self-care: The often-hectic pace of caregiving can lead to unhealthy habits, such as relying on fast food or failing to exercise. This lack of self-care is frequently cited as the reason caregivers experience a health crisis of their own. As you begin to move forward, make a commitment to eating well and exercising.
- Join a support group: Many former caregivers find it useful to talk with peers who understand and share their struggles. Most hospice organizations offer bereavement support to families. Organizations such as the Family Caregiver Alliance and ALZConnected have forums for connecting online.
Options for Caregiver Support
If you are a family caregiver struggling with burnout, it might be time for you to accept that you need additional assistance. Consider hiring a professional caregiver. Doing so will allow you time to rest and restore.
Whether you need help for a few hours a day or around-the-clock support, Griswold Home Care can assist. Call us at 1-800-474-7965 to learn more!