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4 Tips on How to Unwind and Relax

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4 Tips on How to Unwind and Relax

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com

Why is it so hard for a caregiver to switch into “me” mode?

Caregivers are constantly being told that they need to find time for themselves, whether that be looking for respite care, taking their loved ones to an adult day center, or just going for a short walk to get out of the house.

But, for a person who is used to taking care of someone else, finding the time to relax is often easier than actually being able to relax.

Cindy Laverty, caregiver coach, radio talk show host, and author of Caregiving: Eldercare Made Clear and Simple, experienced this dilemma first-hand when she became the primary caregiver for her ex-husband’s father and mother. Laverty says that she was so consumed with the need to remain in control and take care of everything in her in-laws’ lives; that she neglected to take care of herself in the beginning stages of her caregiving journey. This led to a brush with extreme caregiver burnout and a resolve to re-think her approach to caregiving.

Laverty says there are certain thoughts that may prevent a caregiver from truly relaxing:

1. “I need to be in charge of everything that has to do with my loved one’s care.” Laverty says that caregivers sometimes find it difficult to let go of their caregiving mindset—even when their mind and body are screaming at them to take a break. “You can’t be in charge of everything,” Laverty says, “People take on the role of caregiver thinking that they can do everything for six months, but, in this world, that role can last for years, even decades.”

2. “I can’t stop worrying that something will go wrong if I’m not there.” Some caregivers, when offered the opportunity to take a breather, find that they can’t stop their minds from running through dozens of “What if…?” scenarios. What if my mother falls and the respite caregiver can’t pick her up? What if my father has another stroke while I’m gone? These kinds of thoughts can make a caregiver incapable of relaxing, even when they’re away from the person they’re caring for.

3. “I shouldn’t be enjoying myself while my loved one needs care.” Laverty admits that when she first started out taking care of her elderly relatives, she put herself in the position of being “on call” all of the time, despite the fact that she had access to additional caregivers who were able to help. Guilt can make a caregiver feel as though they’re being selfish by taking some time for themselves. A guilt-ridden caregiver who does decide to take some time away may find themselves so consumed by regret that it’s impossible to relax.

It’s normal for caregivers to experience these thought patterns at certain times.

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Relaxing: Why It’s Hard, and How Caregivers Can Learn to Unwind originally appeared in AgingCare.com.

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AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

45 comments

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4:59PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Call your loved ones medicaid and ask if they cover any respite programs besides adult daycare. Help is out there even if you can't rely on your relatives.

4:57PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Deborah V. I understand how you are feeling and yes I am living in your shoes as I am also a caregiver. No one in my family wants to help out when I need respite during the weekdays. That's why I often take my grandpa to adult daycare just so I can get respite.

4:55PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

I am one of the caregivers for my grandpa who has dementia. I often take him to adult daycare just so I can get respite. His medicaid pays up to 5 days of his daycare expenses and it also covers his breakfast, lunch, and snacks. If your loved one has medicaid, call medicaid if it covers for adult daycare in your area. If so, you've hit the jackpot! Hope this helps. And I got the adult daycare idea from an online caregiver support group. Thanks!

9:20AM PST on Feb 4, 2013

ok.

2:12PM PDT on May 21, 2012

Deborah, I felt so bad reading your comment. Unfortunately, caregiving is a 24/7, 365 days a year. I understood your frustration, but I don't think our healthcare system is to blame. No one can be there with you all the time, unless it is another family member. but you can get respite from agencies, as I worked for one, for 4 hours at a time to take time for yourself and/or errands, etc. Like you stated, friends, neighbors, volunteers can help out. I don't know where you live, but a lot of states are there to help.

1:18PM PDT on May 17, 2012

good reminders and tips

12:49PM PDT on May 17, 2012

Thank you!

9:21AM PDT on May 17, 2012

Having been a caregiver for 13 years my blood boils every time I see a F___ing article like this. There is only one way to help caregivers. Whatever country you are in the medical establishment must understand that one person cannot provide all the care another needs, nor should they ever have to. A close relative also should never have to be the primary caregiver. Furthermore, don't tell us to read something to "help us". DO SOMETHING. Bring a meal over. Stay with the person for a couple of hours. Don;'t offer advice DO IT.l We are exhausted, overwhelmed, disillusioned and depressed. All we can do is what we have to do every day. Again,skip the stupid cheery, usually impossible suggestions and HELP.

The U.S. is the WORST offender as this is where my hell began and the insurance company took great delight in trying to somehow make us feel guilty that my husband had chronic progressive MS. To this day I cannot believe that on various occasions when I called with an issue and needed something I was told "everyone has their cross to bear". God help them because if anyone should reap bad karma it is anyone who can work in any capacity for a health insurance bastard.

There is no future for humanity because in every country the sick and the disabled are marginalized and usually made poor. This is despicable and indicative of a crumbling humanity and frankly it can't crumble fast enough.in my opinion.

8:33AM PDT on May 17, 2012

there will always be guilt...

6:53AM PDT on May 17, 2012

Thanks for the info and tips.

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