Those who know how to manage their own personal life fare best as caregivers. Ms. Laverty says, “Knowing what matters most in your life helps you put things into context,” Ms. Laverty says. “This is your final journey with someone you love. How do you want that journey to look? How do you want your life to look at the end of the journey? Do you want your marriage intact? Do you want to maintain your career? You don’t have to do everything, and you shouldn’t do everything. Caregiving is one component of your life.”
In her own experience and her work with other caregivers, Ms. Laverty has realized, “Many seniors become narcissistic and self-absorbed,” she says. “All that matters is that their needs being met immediately. They demand and demand more. At some point you’re going to have to say ‘I can’t do that right now.’ Set boundaries and stick to them. Don’t become an indentured servant.”
No is OK
Learning how say one little word – no – can make a world of difference. “You might think, ‘I can’t say no to mom.’ But your mom probably said no when she was taking care of you as a child. “Sometimes in life, the answer has to be no,” Ms. Laverty says.
If you are a caregiver who has taken on too much, understand that you cannot fix all that is wrong. Speaking to a professional – a counselor or a caregiving advocate can help get your life back on track. “Don’t just stay on a runaway train. Once you get to the point of complete overwhelm, you will ruin your health, destroy your relationships, or just walk away. Get help before you reach the breaking point,” she says.