by Joy Loverde
In my last blog I offered my views on situations when we over do it when it comes to family caregiving. We think nothing of saying “yes” to requests from loved ones even when it’s at our own expense. If you know this is true for you, then that mindset has to be put aside or there will be nothing left of you in the end.
Here’s the message loud and clear – there is only so much time and energy to give to others. You are not a bad person if you have boundaries. The key to getting back on track with your self-respect (not to mention your mental health) is learning how to know the difference between doing what is required, when to delegate to others, and letting go of unnecessary tasks.
If you think concept of backing off is going to be difficult for you, then I suggest you get out a piece of paper and pen and start making a list. Sometimes putting what you are doing in black and white can help you see the situation at hand.
Formulating responsibilities into a list of what must be done (have to do) makes it easier to visualize what you realistically have on your plate. Anything else that you offer (nice to do) is icing on the cake. Prioritization is critical to ensuring that the most important family caregiving tasks are completed first. In today’s family caregiver world, the ability for you to prioritize your tasks must be part of your bag of tricks.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself (as often as needed) as a way to maintain a healthy balance between family caregiving responsibilities and the real needs of your elders:
When it comes to my role as family caregiver, I...
Focus on my elders’ strengths and resources, not limitations and weaknesses.
...keep them involved in their own decision-making process.
...facilitate dialogues rather than try to solve their problems for them.
...let them do what they can for themselves, as long as their safety is not at risk.
....adhere to their decision-making time frame, rather than my own.
...accept and deal with what is, rather than the way I’d like things to be.
...do not waste energy worrying about people and circumstances that I cannot control.
...am aware that change can occur for better or for worse at any time.
...ask for and accept help from others.
...do not deplete my own financial resources
...seek financial advice from professionals.
...do not make ironclad promises to anyone about anything, and stay flexible.
...accept that today somebody is likely to be mad at me for something.
...continue to satisfy my own personal, professional, recreational, spiritual, and social needs.
...accept that it is okay not to have all the answers.
...talk about my real feelings to a trusted friend or professional about what is happening.