Caring for our elderly and, most often, ailing parents is a cold reality we have to face at some point in our lives. Then there is what we could call a role reversal. Becoming a parent to your parents isn’t something anyone is remotely prepared for, but you have to muster up all your strength and capabilities to provide all of their needs just as they did when you could barely tend to your own.
Nothing would have prepared you so well for the stress you would encounter along the way either, especially because you have other given life responsibilities, including your job and the family you built with your spouse. There is no wonder many who care for their ailing family members tend to be depressed or sick themselves. These complications often result from prolonged sleep deprivation, frequently missing meals or eating unhealthy ones, the lack of exercise, and general neglect of the self.
What Keeps You from Taking Care of Yourself
This predicament could give you the odd feeling that taking care of yourself could be neglecting your loved ones, but that does not have to be the case. Although guilt is a natural reaction we have seeing our loved ones suffer anything like an illness, it’s still healthy to remind yourself that you are doing your best to alleviate their pain. Often, the first step to opening yourself from the care you deserve is acknowledging these negative feelings, and you can do this by reflecting on and tackling these limiting beliefs:
- My parents’ health is solely my responsibility.
- I am selfish if I put my needs above theirs from time to time.
- I am inadequate for asking for help.
- Only when I care for my parents will I get their care and affection.
Unloading Your Mental Baggage
Now, it’s time to separate yourself from these thoughts that sabotage your self-care. Then, you can move on to actively seeking ways to lighten that metaphorical load you’re carrying because they’re not all yours to carry, after all. You’ll realize this when you break down all your regular tasks and see how they’re too much for one to handle. No wonder you can’t help feeling burnt out from time to time. It will become worse if you have no one to confide with because you’ve convinced yourself that no one will understand your circumstances as well as you do.
Then start being okay with the idea of someone doing other tasks for you. For example, if you’re working from home and are struggling to set boundaries between work and family time, why not have a health worker over to your house during weekdays to attend to your parents while you work? Set them up for routine work like bathing and feeding so you can focus on equally important tasks.
Manage Your Stress
If you’ve been irritable, having trouble sleeping, or feeling fatigued lately, chances are that your stress levels are high, and you need to act on them. Stress often originates from a feeling of losing control of your circumstances, and so you have to slowly but surely gain that control back. Start by reviving that routine you’ve shoved under the rug. You know that you will get you back on track, such as how you usually prepare for a day at work.
Make your bed upon waking up, drink water, shower, dress up, prepare and eat breakfast, and set off for work. Make this routine along with other self-care activities such as meditating and exercise non-negotiable in your day or week, and you’ll find yourself regaining a balanced priority on yourself and your loved ones. Remember, you get your loved ones’ welfare in check only if you got yours too.
Feeling like passing a burden when asking for help, while very common, will not be the best for you in the end. On the other hand, acknowledging your limitations and knowing whom to ask for help is a strength. That is why it’s best to tailor-fit the assistance you’ll ask from a friend or a professional according to their expertise. For example, your friend is a financial adviser. It would be best to consult them about your parents’ hospital bills rather than about where they recommend you get your car repaired.
Of course, you don’t expect a hundred percent acceptance of your requests as your friends also have their current predicaments proving it difficult to cover for you. It would be best not to take their decision personally. For sure, they’ll be happy to help you some other time if their schedule allows them.
Family caregiving is not an easy task. With this, you can only stay in your best shape. Recharging your mental and spiritual ammo is crucial so you can continue to deliver the care you’d want your loved ones to receive.