Caregivers asking for help – recognizing when you need it

Caregivers asking for help – recognizing when you need it

Caregivers have to find the balance between their personal lives, work, and caregiving roles, but despite having more on their plates than the average non-caregiver, finding a work life balance is difficult and they may not even realize when they’ve reached their limits.

As a caregiver, the stress of your additional responsibilities and the emotions that go along with providing care for someone who is ill can take an incredible toll on you, often even without you realizing it.

Caregivers who find it difficult to ask for help from others may find themselves feeling particularly overwhelmed when faced with conflicting demands from other aspects of their lives, such as work and family responsibilities.

If you feel the same way, it may be time to reflect on how you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally about your approach to caregiving.

Knowing yourself

As a caregiver, the stress of your additional responsibilities and the emotions that go along with providing care for someone who is ill can take an incredible toll on you, often even without you realizing it.

When your physical and emotional well-being are affected, you are more likely to get sick yourself, but how are you with asking for help as a caregiver?

It becomes increasingly difficult to provide good care when you’re both mentally and physically exhausted. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad caregiver, it just means that you have reached your limits and have no more internal resources. It also means that it may be time to ask for some home care support.

You should feel proud of what you are able to do and realize that you have a right to continue to make a meaningful life for yourself as well.

It’s okay to ask for help as a caregiver – in fact, it’s the key to providing the best care possible and being able to advocate on behalf of yourself and the person you are caring for.

Elizz caregiving experts have talked to many caregivers who have gone through the same challenges that you now face, and they offer the following advice that they say they wish had been given to them:

Don’t be afraid to ask for caregiving help!

Ideally, you should try to plan ahead for any caregiving help you think you may need in the future. Of course this is not always possible.

Even if you plan well, an individual’s condition may change unexpectedly, suddenly creating the need for more intense caregiving that may require you to ask for help.

The other responsibilities you have in your life may also change and you might not have as much time for caregiving. How good are you at asking for help? Take this quiz to find out.

Below are some of the signs and symptoms that can be an indication of when your mental and physical limits have been reached. Be aware of them so you can take steps to seek out help from your family, friends, or community as soon as possible.

Signs you may need help or respite

  • Pains that seem to have no cause, including chest pains
  • Headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Sleeplessness
  • Teeth grinding
  • Tense muscles
  • A reliance on alcohol and drugs
  • A lack of interest or awareness in the world and people around you
  • Strong emotions and mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • An increased number of accidents
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in eating habits
  • A lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A worsening of existing health problems
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Feelings of depression

Know your physical limitations

You may have existing health problems that limit your ability to act as a caregiver.

For example, if you have heart disease, you may not be able to lift or move the person you are caring for without risk to yourself.

The stress of caregiving can also negatively affect your condition. The physical part of caregiving can make a breathing problem worse, and may be almost impossible if you have any trouble with your bones and joints.

If you cannot hear or see very well, you should also be asking for help with caregiving. You may be placing the one you care for in danger if you miss hearing a health care provider’s instructions, or if you can’t hear the person call out for your help.

When your vision is poor, be aware that there could be an increased chance of mistakes with medications.

It is a good idea to talk to a health care provider about your health and how it may affect your ability to take good care of the person you are caring for, and if necessary, ask for the caregiver help you need.

A final check

As a final check on whether or not you need respite care or if should seek help, you may want to ask yourself how you would use the time away from your caregiving responsibilities.

Would you spend more time with your children and spouse?

Would you take part in an activity you enjoy?

How important are these activities to you?

If you are not able to spend your time as you would like, how do you think your life will be affected in the future?

Can you accept those changes?

There are many reasons why we may find it difficult asking for help as caregivers:

  • Feelings of guilt and shame
  • Lack of understanding that others are in the same situation
  • Lack of knowledge about available options
  • Inability to pay for formal caregiving services
  • Insufficient time to seek out supports
  • Cultural issues that discourage help from outside the family
  • Lack of services to meet specific needs
  • Feelings of depression, which can reduce the motivation needed to seek out supports
  • Lack of comfort in communicating feelings

Read our Elizz article Share the care – Follow these 7 caregiver rules to help you preserve your own well-being and prevent caregiver burnout and stress as a result of your caregiving responsibilities.

If you need additional caregiver support that the people around you can’t provide, check out our Elizz services for caregivers and the people they’re taking care of.

Elizz is the place in Canada for all things caregiving. Powered by Saint Elizabeth Health Care, Elizz offers caregivers a wide range of services and caregiver support along with support for those in your care.

If you have difficulty asking for help as a caregiver and wish to speak with someone, contact a Caregiver Coach or call Elizz at 1-855-Ask-Eliz (275-3549).

 

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