It’s OK to change your mind about being a caregiver.
Often people take on caring for a family member with the best of intentions, but not knowing how long it will last or how care needs will change or their own lives may evolve. Then they may find themselves ready for a new chapter or completely overwhelmed; some people even end up needing care for themselves after injury or illness resulting from overexertion as a caregiver.
Consider these steps to change your caregiving role and maintain your own well-being:
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk to the health care provider and care team (maybe a professional caregiver, a physical or occupational therapist, etc.) about the status of current needs and anticipated care expectations for a loved one. Then plan a meeting with them and your loved one or just share what you learned along with what you are capable of doing. Involve this person in the decisions as much as possible, and share your limitations.
- Do research together on interviewing caregivers, visiting facilities, and reviewing various insurance policies and how to pay for different long-term care options. In this way, the decisions are made together and everyone is a stakeholder. If your loved one has a professional caregiver and you are looking at a transition to a facility, it’s likely the caregiver can remain part of their care team for that one-on-one care.
- Take baby steps. If you’ve been doing all of the caregiving—driving Mom to and from medical appointments, making meals, giving medication reminders, assisting with bathing, being a companion to play games and socialize, and more—look into hiring a caregiver who can relieve you of a portion of these tasks so you can enjoy being a son, daughter, niece or nephew, grandchild, or spouse again. This way, there is not a big move and you can oversee this new relationship and even be part of it.
Remember that caregiving is a journey, not a destination, and it will change over time for all involved. Feelings of guilt are normal and can be dealt with so that better choices can be made beyond resentment and exhaustion while continue to be a caregiver.