If you could steal a few hours for yourself each day, what would that look like: Exercise? Sitting down with a good book? Catching up on 4 weeks of your favorite TV program that congest your DVR? Time for yourself… Take a moment to mull over that thought.
When your children were young, they relied on you for everything from food to clean diapers. Clearly a child’s needs change as he ages, but does he really need you any less? In those moments your children are exploring their new-found independence, what are you doing with those blocks in your schedule? Studies show, that women are filling that time with longer hours at work or more time devoted to their aging parent(s).
If you fall into the latter category, that of “caregiver”, who is taking care of you? As a Geriatric Care Manager, I’m meeting with more and more adult daughters who are sacrificing work, childcare, travel and “Me” time to meet their elder parents’ needs.
There is no simple answer for how to balance the routine bumps in the road that come with aging. But not even Super Woman can provide meaningful care to others if she’s not taking care of herself FIRST.
Yes, our parents birthed us & sacrificed for us (just as we’ve done for our own children), but, most likely, our parents also raised us to make good choices. Once we start to exhibit any of the signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout, our body is screaming at us that a “Time Out” is in order. (See Below)
Taking a breather, however, requires more than just that. Approach your “Me Time” from your inner adult. Remind yourself that you are allowed & entitled to take care of yourself – however that presents itself for you.
You are not a “bad” person, daughter or friend for needing to take care of yourself and recharge your batteries. You are not any less of a caregiver if you ask for help. Quite the contrary; taking care of yourself brings you inner calm. This sense of peace & wholeness allows you to make decisions coming from a rational, well thought out place as opposed to one of reaction and frustration.
All too often, women are so hard on themselves. If we are working mothers to young children then we don’t do enough for and with them. If we are stay-at-home moms, we don’t contribute to the family income. We carry these same judgments with us as we age. If we are close in proximity to our aging parents, we should be readily available. If we are out of the area from our aging parents, we should give up our own life to care for our parents.
Of course, these are generalizations. Everything is based on family dynamics & experiences. But this notion of caring for everybody, all the time, at any cost to one’s own well-being is more often the norm than not.
As a Geriatric Care Manager, I offer an extra set of hands to take off some of your load. I am on call for those middle-of-the-night emergencies in addition to the day-to-day grind. I provide oversight so you can get back to that book, play with your children or grandchildren, even finish watching Season 1 of Downton Abbey. Embrace help so that you can embrace good health!
Signs of Burnout:
A Checklist for Caregivers
- Are you curtailing visits and phone calls with close friends?
- Have you given up hobbies or activities you have enjoyed for years?
- Are you developing stress-related problems such as back pain, headaches, chronic feelings of fatigue, and/or depression?
- Are you coming down with colds, flu, and/or other illnesses more than usual?
- Do you have a short temper? Do you find you’re getting mad in the checkout line at the grocery store? In traffic? With friends and family?
- Do you have outbursts of anger at your loved when he or she behaves erratically or becomes difficult?
- Have you gained or lost weight unintentionally?
- Do you have an unshakable feeling of despair or pessimism?
- Are you crying “for no reason” or over minor problems?
- Do you complain about lack of sleep or chronic insomnia?
If you find that you are experiencing several of the above symptoms, it is time to ask for help. Geriatric Care Manager, Amy Guss, can be of assistance.