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When is it Okay for Family Caregivers to Ask for Help?

Woman feeding husband soup
By Tim Bodor

It takes a great amount of courage to ask for help when you need it, and it is because of this reason that often times we wait just a little too long. When it comes to being the caregiver for a loved one, there isn’t anything easy about it. The job can be demanding and stressful, especially considering the learning curve involved in having to understand an entirely new way of life. There are many caregivers who end up suffering from burnout just because they fail to see where their personal limitations might be, or they set up unrealistic goals about the amount of care they are able to provide their loved ones.

If you notice that your role as a family caregiver starts to affect the quality of your life, then it might be time to take a step back and recognize that you need a little help. Just like you would expect the person you are caring for to ask you for help, it is completely normal for a family caregiver to need assistance. If you are capable of asking for help earlier than you really need it, then it may extend the amount of time you are able to provide care to your loved one either in their home, or in yours.

Misconceptions About Asking for Help

Many caregivers are caring for their parents, grandparents, or the parents of their spouse. Regardless of who they are, it is usually someone who helped to care for you at some point in time. This helps to make many caregivers uneasy about asking for assistance, because it feels like weakness or inadequacy. Your loved one may even complain about strangers being in their home, which can feel like you are helping them lose their dignity, but these ideas couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, it is important to understand that being honest with yourself and your loved one can help sustain and even improve your relationship. If you are taking charge of your loved one’s care, then it is also important to recognize what you are capable of taking responsibility for, and what is best left to professionals so that you know for a fact that your loved one is getting the care that they need. Remember that courage is the ability to do something even when you are afraid to do it. Asking for help takes a great deal of courage, however, the peace of mind you’ll get knowing that your family member is taken care of will be a great relief.

When It’s Time to Ask for Help

As previously stated, the best time to ask for help is before you feel the first signs of burnout or stress. If caring for your loved one is something you don’t have a lot of experience doing, or is something that is new to you, then it can be easy to miss the signs that you are reaching your limit. As you work within your role, you will start to be able to tell the difference between the stress of learning something new, and the stress of reaching your limit. If for some reason you do miss the signs, then reach out immediately. The most common symptoms of caregiver stress include the following:

  • Not finding enough time to have decent or well-balanced meals
  • An increase in drinking or smoking
  • A general feeling of constant anxiety, like you’re forgetting something or not getting enough done
  • Feeling exhausted, overly tired, or not being able to get enough sleep
  • An increase in health-related issues tied to stress
  • Being overly short tempered, or feeling angry more often than is normal
  • Having trouble concentrating, even on small tasks
  • Being depressed, withdrawn, or feeling isolated

If you fail to reach out, then it can lead to hostility and resentfulness towards their loved one, which will be a regret later on.

Asking for Help

When you decide to ask for help, you will need to determine what you need help doing. Sometimes you can reach out to other friends, family, and agencies to help with tasks like grocery shopping and rides for errands. Neighbors can be enlisted to do check-ins and help keep your loved one company, while providing emotional support. If you need help with simple cleaning, cooking, and household activities, then this is the job for a homemaker. Our professional caregivers can handle those tasks and more, including personal care assistance that includes bathing, dressing, and other hygiene related tasks. Home health care for hospice, skilled nursing, or quality of life can also be obtained.

Whether you need just a few hours to yourself during the day, or you are looking for something that provides more support, there are many options available to you, don’t hesitate to ask.

The reality is that there comes a time where your parent’s needs may be more than you can handle and it becomes safer for them to be in an environment where you can simply enjoy being with them again, instead of having to constantly worry about the care they need. Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Sterling is here for you. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.

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