Many people begin their journey in care giving with an altruistic feeling in their heart. They want to care for their loved ones or clients and feel that they are well equipped for the position. But as the weeks and months pass, the stresses of being a caregiver can begin to ravage their emotional, mental and physical well-being. They can begin to fall victim to the stress and illness, depression, controlling behaviors, and even angry outbursts can begin to mar their typically sunny dispositions. Through no fault of their own, they begin to succumb to the unending demands of being responsible for the health, happiness and life of another human being. Over time these demands may bring about the process of physical, mental and emotional break-down. It can happen so slowly, that at times, the caregivers themselves are not even aware of the toll that caregiving has begun to take on them. However, the telltale signs may be glaringly obvious to those around them.
Their disheveled appearance, the far- away look in their eyes, the illness that never seems to end, their need to control every aspect of life are just some of the telltale warning signs that trouble is brewing. But it doesn’t have to reach this point and it shouldn’t. In 1624, John Donne wrote that “No man is an island,” nor should he ever be. There are things that we can do to make sure the caregivers in our lives are getting the care they need. Here are the top three things we can do to help those who give so much to others.
1. Provide them with a respite from their caregiving. Even if just for a day, a break in their duties can do wonders for the caregiver. If you cannot personally do their job, hire a qualified company to do it for them. They will sing your praises for years to come.
2. Spa day! Anything from massage to hair and nails, facials to acupuncture, will make them feel better. A day devoted just to their own well-being will improve their outlook and appearance.
3. Show them the love. Whether through a card, a cooked meal or paid lawn services, anything that you can do to encourage them or lighten their load will go far to helping them manage their peace of mind.
Whether they are full-time, part-time or occasional caregiver, their job is not easy, no matter how much they love the person or how much they are getting paid. It is a labor of love. The least we can do is help to support them.