Caring for another person can be isolating. You can get so stuck in the day-to-day care and struggle to keep it all together, that you aren’t able to find support and reach out.
Don’t try to carry the whole burden of caregiving yourself. It can be difficult to ask others for help, but you’ll be glad you did, and they will be glad that they can help you. Sometimes, people don’t know what help to offer, so they don’t jump in. If you are clear with your needs, it can be easier for others to help.
In order to build a support network, you will need to know what activities you can get help with and who can share the load. Make a list of the activities you do in a day and week and what can be done by someone other than yourself. It may feel like you are the only person who can provide care, but there are many things someone else can do that won’t alter your parent’s care. You don’t need to be the one to grocery shop or drive them to the senior center.
Here are some areas where you can bring in support:
- Look into adult day care centers, respite care centers and other community services that could give you a break from your caregiving duties. If these options are too expensive, you can consider a trade with a fellow caregiver or enlist a friend or family member.
- Ask a friend or neighbor for help with shopping or running errands. Perhaps they can pick up items for you while they are on their own errands. If you don’t ask, they won’t know you need them.
- Join a support group where you can discuss ideas and frustrations with other caregivers. You may meet someone to do care trades with, or just have the opportunity to speak with people who understand exactly what you are going through. If you can’t go in person, there are online support groups you can join.
- Seek out community resources that might give you a break.
- Have a back-up person and plan in the event that you are sick or away. Once you have a back-up person, take a little time for yourself to make sure your system works, and to get much-needed respite. Even if you just stay one night in a local hotel, it will do you a world of good.
- Set up a transportation system. You don’t need to be your caree’s personal taxi service. There are a number of options from friends and family to community options and private services like Taxis, Uber, Lift and local services. Figure out the types of transportation your parent needs and who can provide rides. For example, many senior centers have a free shuttle for residents. There are also city transportation services for things like trips to the grocery store or bank. If you set up a network of options, you will take a huge load off your plate.
- Are there younger family members who you can include in the caregiving role? They can help with laundry or entertaining their grandparent. I knew a family who had their high school age daughter stay with grandma during school breaks. They cooked together, did puzzles and enjoyed each other’s company. It was wonderful for both of them.
Get creative. Think of what gets done in the day and how you can delegate some of the tasks or find shortcuts.