It’s difficult to know when to ask for help. We sometimes get so focused on the things that need to get done that we don’t even realize when it’s time to ask for help. Sometimes, you need to step back and evaluate the situation and admit to yourself that you can’t do it all.
Living with constant stress or unhappiness is not how anyone should live. If caring for a loved one is important to you, you can still do it, but you don’t have to do it all. Find ways to outsource what you don’t want to do so that you can spend more time doing the things you want to do. If preparing healthy meals for your caree is important to you, then do that. If you hate sitting around while your parent gets his/her hair done, outsource that task.
If you are experiencing any of the following, you may want to explore getting some form of caregiving help:
- Are you forgetting important appointments or tasks that are impacting your or your caree’s well-being?
- Are you becoming angry? Do things get under your skin more quickly than they have in the past? Is the anger affecting your relationship with your caree or family?
- Is your health being impacted by the constant stress or workload?
- Are you avoiding spending time with your family or friends because you are so tired or stressed out that you can’t imagine being around people?
- Is your caree’s health or safety being affected because you don’t have the time or ability to properly care for him/her?
If the situations above sound familiar, you may want to consider getting help with your caregiving or household roles. Society has led us to believe that we can do it all and if we aren’t busy every second of every day, we are not living life to the fullest. That simply isn’t true. Everyone needs downtime.
What types of help can you get to lighten your load?
- Errands/Tasks: Whether you work full-time or not, if you are caring for someone else and maintain a household, you can drown in the to dos. Is there a high school or college student in your neighborhood who can run the simple errands such as post office trips, grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning or prescriptions? If you don’t know anyone, there are sites like Task Rabbit that allow you to hire someone to do tasks such as errands, cleaning or even work around the house.
- Help with Paperwork: If you work outside the home and are managing care for someone with a medical condition or someone with a busy schedule, you may want to consider hiring a personal or virtual assistant a few hours a week to take some of the coordination off your plate. They can help with tasks such as making appointments, following up with providers or doing research. You can also hire someone to handle finances for your caree, but before doing so, make sure the person is licensed and bonded.
- Companion for Caree: Do you need some time for yourself, but feel guilty leaving your caree alone? Or, does your caree have early stage dementia and you are concerned about him/her being alone? There are a new crop of companions who will keep your caree company when you aren’t available. They can take them to lunch, play a game of cards or chess with them, or even accompany them to the theater. Of course, you will want to background check any companion you hire and be sure that he/she carries the appropriate insurance if they will be transporting your parent.
- In-Home Caregiver: You don’t need to bring a caregiver into your parent’s home full-time. I had many clients who had in-home care for a few hours a week. A caregiver can do anything from walk with your senior parent to ensure they are getting exercise safely to cook meals or provide personal care. Once client even had a caregiver come every morning to assist her with getting started for the day. The caregiver helped with bathing and dressing, prepared breakfast for her and went for a walk with her. Some agencies have a minimum hourly requirement while others reduce the rate the longer the caregiver is with your parent. Do your research before bringing someone in the home. Be sure to request the opportunity to interview the caregiver, not just the in-take person from the agency. They are not the same person. And, most importantly, if the caregiver is not the right fit for your parent, don’t feel shy about requesting a new caregiver. You are paying for the service and are entitled to have the right person in your parent’s home.
These are just a few ways to get outside help for everything from the little tasks to the big tasks. You shouldn’t think that hiring help means that you aren’t capable of providing care, or aren’t cutting it. It means that you are focusing on your strengths and making sure that both you and your caree are being well taken care of.
How do you offset your caregiving tasks?