Care givers can get care giver burn out if they do not have some time to themselves. It is very important even if it is to do little things like reading a book, going out for dinner, or having coffee with a friend. A care giver’s life can very much become one dimensional, but there is more to the person than only being a care giver. For us chronically ill/disabled people it is important that our care givers’ lives are not only all about taking care of us. We like hearing stories about the outside world, about what you have been doing, who you bumped in to. It gives us some normality.
In this two part series I will talk about care givers, the problems they can encounter and how to avoid those. This article is for both carers and those who are chronically ill/disabled.
Here is part I:
First I like to talk about isolation. Carers can get isolated if they don’t do things on their own without the person they care for. In some cases it can be very hard to leave the other person alone, but there are organisations that have support programs, or offer ‘respite care’. Or maybe a friend can take over. If that is not possible, simple things like catching up with friends over Skype/FaceTime can help. Or have people visit you at home.
As a carer, it is important not to neglect your own health, you can not be a good caregiver if you do not care for yourself. Ignoring your own health can have a negative impact on the person you are caring for but of course also on yourself! So how can you take care of your carer? You can ask how he or she is doing, remind them to look after themselves and if needed, tell them to get medical help. Think if there are other people in your environment who can help with little things, or maybe hire a cleaner once in a while to do the heavier/bigger jobs in the house. That can help a lot.
Carers should allow themselves the time to grieve the loss of their old life, just as the person they care for will have to do. It is a perfectly normal feeling to be sad about all the things that will never be the same. Do not feel afraid to share with the person you are caring for, they have this in common with you! Even though life can be totally different now, try to look at the positive things you have, the little things. For example maybe you now have more time together than before. ‘Different’ does not necessarily mean ‘bad’!