Whatís OK and Not OK as a Caregiver

By Cindy Laverty, AgingCare.com.

Everywhere I travel and meet caregivers, I see a common theme: Most family caregivers are afraid to ask for help. Somehow people think that they should just miraculously know how to care for an aging loved one.

Why would you know this? You did not receive PhD in Caregiving and your loved one poses challenges that you don’t have the answers to. As I’m listening to their challenges, frustrations, fears, sorrows, stress-induced situations and overall feelings of being overwhelmed, I find that many caregivers seem to need permission from a professional to ask for help. So very simply, I reach out and take the person’s hand, and give permission. Usually there is an instant look of relief in the person’s face. It’s incredible that giving someone permission to not be perfect helps relieve the pressure and the stress.

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Caregivers frequently suffer from severely stressful emotions that can control and even ruin their lives. Sadly, these are the caregivers who, for whatever reason, have refused to ask for help or seek professional advice either from a medical doctor or a therapist. In order to manage the caregiving journey, you simply must step out of your comfort zone and find alternative methods for dealing with your personal situation.

The only way that family caregivers can sustain all that needs to be done to care for a loved one is to delegate responsibility and ask for help. It’s really simple and it changes lives.

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Why Your Ill Parent Fools the Doctor and What to do About It originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

Here are some things that I think are okay for caregivers:

It’s okay to be scared.

It’s okay to be angry, lost, sad and even depressed.

It’s okay to lose your patience.

It’s okay that you don’t want to sacrifice your whole life for someone else. And you shouldn’t.

It’s okay that your self-esteem feels damaged.

It’s okay that you make mistakes.

It’s okay that you don’t know how to do everything.

It’s okay that you don’t have the answers.

It’s okay that you don’t have a cure.

It’s okay that you’re not there all the time.

It’s okay that you sometimes have extreme feelings towards the person for whom you are caring.

It’s okay that you lost your temper.

It’s okay that you had to apologize.

It’s okay that you’re afraid.

It’s okay that you can’t get everything done in a day.

It’s okay that you have guilt. All caregivers have guilt.

It’s okay that you have compassion fatigue.

It’s okay you feel trapped.

It’s okay that you took a few days for yourself.

It’s okay that you vented to your spouse or friend.

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All of these things are absolutely okay. How you manage them is going to make the difference between becoming an Empowered Caregiver or staying in a hopeless situation.

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Why Your Ill Parent Fools the Doctor and What to do About It originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

Here are some things that are NOT okay.

It’s not okay that you feel like you have to do everything yourself.

It’s not okay that you feel like an indentured servant.

It’s not okay that you are ignoring your personal needs.

It’s not okay that you are ignoring friends and social activities.

It’s not okay that asking for help paralyzes you.

It’s not okay that you don’t have a plan in place.

It’s not okay to feel helpless and hopeless for days on end.

It’s not okay that you have stopped doing activities you once loved.

It’s not okay that you are afraid to say “no” or “not now.”

It’s not okay that your siblings don’t help you.

It’s not okay that you don’t have boundaries in place.

It’s not okay that you feel unappreciated by your family.

It’s not okay that you have lost pride in what you are doing for another human being.

It’s not okay to sacrifice your financial security.

It’s not okay that you do everything your loved one wants, especially when the demands can be outrageous.

It’s not okay that you don’t sleep or eat properly.

It’s not okay that you are constantly exhausted when help is available, if you would only seek it.

It’s not okay that you are sacrificing your personal health for another.

It’s not okay that you are constantly trying to fix everything that is wrong.

It’s not okay that you are living your life in crisis.

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If any of the above rings true for you, then decide right now that you will get the help you need. Decide that you will live your life in a better way. Decide that you will take the necessary steps to ask for and get answers to the challenges that you are facing. Decide today that you are worth the time, energy and financial investment to survive, thrive and become an Empowered Caregiver.

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Whatís OK and Whatís Not OK When You Are a Caregiver originally appeared on AgingCare.com.


Aud Nordby
Aud n4 years ago


Susan S.
Paul Stephan5 years ago

Thank you. This is very reassuring and helpful.

Traudi Fauner
Gertraud Faubner5 years ago

good article and very good help - bless you

Patty L.
Patty L5 years ago

great advice

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe6 years ago

I needed this information 6 years ago when my sister and I were the only ones taking care of my Mom (Alzheimer's).
I am copying this so that I will have it in the future. You never know what can happen.
Thanks so much.

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T6 years ago

Good article, thank you..

Leta R.
Leta R.6 years ago

Great article! and sooo true, it's nice to see what we know as caregivers given ink!

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Wow! This makes me feel a little better, since I admit to many of the emotions on the list.

Debbie W.
Past Member 6 years ago

Many of the items listed easily apply both to the givers AND receivers. We all have needs ... and gifts to share, interchangeable based on our position in the circle of life.

Just because our needs and abilities change with time in our life cycle, does not negate a loss of dignity and respect, to become only a chore that must be dealt with, often unfeelingly, begrudingly, or for-profit.

The desire to be included in life as much as possible to the end is universal ... and will, in time, be your desire as well. What do you feel is fair and righteous?

Mary Martin
Mary Martin6 years ago

I am a carer for my husband, with a brain injury and have developed a carers information folder for new carers, one of the tips is an family and friends awareness page making them aware that the carer will probably not ask for help as they are expected to cope,and often friends and family wont to help but don't know how, this spells it out,
i do hope that in time it will help,as it has only just been launched.
to all carers you are doing an amazing job for little thanks ,so please contact your nearest Carers Centre and other carers for a chat and moan if needed it helps a lot
i have found that God Bless to all.