Almost all of us have had contact with someone with special needs or have been affected ourselves at some point in our lives. An accident or chronic illness with resulting cognitive or physical impairments usually have varied lasting effects.
Primary caregivers especially feel the impact. He or she may be a family member or close friend. Personal care giving requires a great deal of perseverance, patience, and sacrifice. Unconditional love is crucial for the daily investment of time and attention that is necessary for the recipient’s care.
Many caregivers I know do not perceive their actions as noble, but something they
desire to do. They possess both a personal responsibility and a unique passion that motivates them to serve without expectation of receiving anything in return.
However, do we ever consider the daily struggles and pressures that
experience? Are there ways in which they can receive the support necessary for their well being? We need to explore opportunities for them to be energized to handle the task of care giving. First, there are two main challenges that are common to most caregivers:
- Physical and mental exhaustion. The demands of care taking are strenuous, especially with no additional support or reprieve.
- Isolation and loneliness. Primary caregivers often have no free time to socialize or participate in outside activities. Their responsibilities may prevent them from developing or maintaining meaningful relationships.
Here are some recommendations for caregiver relief:
- Take advantage of regular respite if possible. Ask for help. A trusted family member or close friend may be willing to offer you support for a much needed break. Hiring a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) may also prove beneficial.
- Join a support group. The purpose is for giving and receiving knowledge, encouragement, and understanding. It is also an opportunity to make new like-minded friends.
- Participate in hobbies or activities that you enjoy. These can be positive distractions that are vital to mental and emotional health.
These suggestions are by no means exhaustive. However, they do minimize the risk of burnout and afford a life with more balance and variety.