Being a caregiver is a 24/7 job. Even if we have support during part of the day, the rest of those hours can really add up. And unlike sleep deprived new parents, those of us providing eldercare cannot look forward to a bright future that our loved one is moving toward. Our elderly charges are simply not going to "grow out of" difficult phases. Quite the opposite - our duties are likely to become more difficult throughout the long journey, one that absolutely requires support. As I shared in Part One of this post, I initially resisted asking for help. And even when I admitted I needed support, I wasn't sure what to ask for.
So think about this for a minute. What would you ask for if you could have all the support you need? If your fairy godmother came to you with a magic wand, what would you say? Perhaps you need help getting some extra sleep or cleaning the house. Would having someone cook for you bring some relief, or do you just need a little time for yourself? Don’t limit yourself. Check in, find out what matters most to you today, and jot your answers down.
Once you have a list of the things that would be most helpful to you, it is time to let people know. If you have the financial means to pay for people to assist in these ways, by all means, please do so! Even if you aren’t able to afford outside help, your family and friends are likely to want to make a difference in your life, but may not be able to intuit your needs. Give them a chance! Share your wish list and see what items people would prefer to help with. Perhaps someone could come over and help with respite care twice a week. Another person may prefer to bring over an occasional casserole to help with meals.
Give yourself permission to ask for help in your journey as a caregiver anytime you feel like you can use it. If you find this challenging, ask yourself this question: "What would I say if someone I care about approached me with the feelings and needs I have at this moment?" You would probably show them a good deal of respect and compassion, exactly as I encourage you to show yourself!
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