It can be hard to admit that a family elder is no longer able to care for themselves or their home independently. When a once strong and vibrant senior reaches the point of needing assistance, loved ones often struggle with a roller coaster of emotions—guilt, sadness, stress, fear, and doubt, to name a few.
Family dynamics can make caregiver emotions even more challenging. While many people know they should create a senior care plan before they need it, very few actually do. Then an older loved one experiences a sudden illness or injury, and relatives find themselves trying to make important decisions in the midst of a crisis. When everyone has different ideas about what is best for the senior, family rivalries can quickly heat up.
Finding ways to manage difficult caregiver emotions and work together with loved ones is essential. Here are a few tips for doing so.
Coping with the Emotional Impact of Caregiving
- Be kind to yourself: Watching a loved one’s health decline is hard, especially when you are providing hands-on care. Accept that there will be good and bad days, and try to be easy on yourself when you feel sad, angry, or frustrated.
- Set realistic expectations: Caring for a senior can be a full-time job. The days can be long and stressful, especially if you have a family of your own or work outside the home. Give yourself permission to set more reasonable expectations in all areas of your life, from how tidy you keep your kitchen to how many times a week you vacuum the living room.
- Practice being mindful: It’s tough not to let thoughts creep in of the days ahead, when your family member might be struggling. You may find yourself worrying about things that may never happen. While it is important to plan ahead, it’s equally important to take things one day at a time. Live in the moment and find joy in small successes and happy moments with your senior loved one.
- Get some exercise: While you might not think you have time to exercise when you are juggling all the tasks of a busy caregiving day, it is one of the best ways to manage tough emotions and stress. Even 20 minutes of physical activity each day, such as walking or yoga, will help you find peace.
- Enlist a professional: Try not to let disagreements with family members become a barrier to getting things done on behalf of your senior loved one. If you are having trouble reaching a compromise everyone can agree on, consider hiring an elder mediator. They help families work through difficult situations and arrive at a solution that best meets an aging loved one’s needs.
- Hire a home care agency: With services ranging from companion care to overnight care, a home care agency can partner with families to make sure an elder’s needs are being met. That can relieve individual family members of some of the caregiving burden.
If your senior loved one would benefit from a little extra assistance around the home or with personal care, Griswold Home Care can help. Call the location nearest you to set up an in-person meeting with an experienced team member.