It was a humbling experience giving a presentation to the Northwest Methodist Church in Austin last evening. Family caregivers who are working full-time and caring for an aging parents are down to earth people with very big hearts!! I was honored to be part of the experience with them.
We talked about caring for ourselves first, then helping others. I asked how many believe that self care is selfish? Most raised their hand! I believe that's the most prominent gene caregivers embody... putting others before us. I think most mothers have this gene. Observing my own mom throughout life - she placed us, the kids, before herself at all times, even in our adult years.
With that said, I'd like to share some of the topics discussed last evening on self care for the caregiver:
First, Empower Yourself!
Empowerment. We hear that work a lot, but it always seems to be so vague and unattainable.
What does it mean to become empowered? It’s defined by many family caregiving advocates as a sense of confidence in your ability to bring about positive changes in your circumstances and to rise above the day to day challenges you face in your caregiver journey. It’s the optimism we strive for to take a positive approach in an effort to achieve a better quality of life for ourselves and our family. Sometimes it is the tiny changes we make in our lives that can have the most profound impact towards a much healthier and positive outlook.
Four Principles to Live by:
Believe in yourself
Protect your health
Take charge of your life
Find ways to de-stress
How do we overcome guilt? First understand it – What is guilt – We all are born with a guilt gene
Guilt is an inherent human trait that should be seen as a gift, however, most of us do not see it as such and rather than deal with guilt, we naturally attempt to squelch it. However, guilt is that nagging voice with in us all that is like water upon a stone and is meant to bring us to a realization that there is a standard and we have fallen short, but whose standard is it?
Tips for Caregiver Burnout
It's helpful to talk it out with a friend or someone your trust. Don't forget about yourself - take time out for you
Be realistic about the care recipient's needs - your not totally responsible
Ask for help - You don't have to walk this path alone
Develop tools for coping... see below
Get a massage
Remember when caregiving - care for self first. You are no help to a loved one if you are depressed, unhealthy, tired, unhappy, depleted, and stressed.