When you care for a family member who is ailing, it can often be difficult to set boundaries. Maybe you know someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia and that person is calling you all the time and repeating the same stories. At some point, after the third, fourth or fifth time you speak to him or her, you may decide not to answer the phone. It’s at that time when many caregivers feel guilty because they judge themselves as ignoring the family member who needs them the most. Yet beating yourself up for not being a good caregiver is of no help to you or your mother, father, grandmother or uncle. In fact, it could even make matters worse.

Here is a list of ways to help you cope when you feel like you aren’t doing enough.

1. Acknowledge your feelings: Guilt is a natural part of being human, and sometimes when the person you love is being difficult, it’s all right to admit that, even though you love him or her, you don’t necessarily always love the caregiving. Rather than thinking that you are wrong to feel what you’re feeling, instead acknowledge your negative feelings.

2. Talk to friends or family about your difficulties: Not sharing your struggles with others can lead to your own illness. Talking to others who understand what you’re going through helps you to release toxic stress hormones and create a deeper feeling of relaxation in your body.

3. Learn that you’re not in control: It’s normal to feel helpless when caring for a family member who is unwell. Just remember that you can’t fix everything and you certainly can’t make someone better who has a life-threatening illness. Try to let go of what you don’t have control over. When you do this you’ll soon see how much better you feel.

4. Ask for help: Even as the prime caregiver you can still ask for help from family. Perhaps it’s asking your children to do something that you would normally do such as pick up after them or make dinner. Now that your situation has changed and you have the responsibility of caring for a sick or elderly family member, that means that you can’t do as much as you used to. If you have siblings but they don’t live nearby and therefore can’t lend a hand, at least speak to them on the phone and let them know the situation. Encourage them to phone the family member and to come and visit if they don’t live too far away. Seek the help of a professional. Bayview Concierge offers a range of services to help with your daily challenges and give you peace of mind. Visit our Services page for more information.

5. Stop blaming yourself: Guilt often creeps in before we’ve accepted that some things are simply out of our control. Accepting that you’re doing the best you can is a positive step to easing your guilt and being all right with being a good-enough caregiver. Admit that you’re doing the best you can. Give yourself a pat on the back, and some extra TLC!


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