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18th Oct


WE HUMAN BEINGS are often contradictory in nature. We like to think of ourselves as objective and practical and yet sometimes we may make completely unrealistic decisions. We can ignore the obvious, insist on the impossible and refuse to listen to those who gently offer their suggestions and advice. We can, in other words, be stubborn and we perhaps tend to be our most stubborn when we are in a stressful situation.

Caregiving is such a situation.

If you provide care for a loved one, chances are you face inordinate stress on a daily basis. Chronic stress may, without your realizing it, warp your view as to what is realistic and what is not. You have committed yourself to providing care and you may be so focused on that goal that you come to believe that everything depends on you. You may convince yourself that you can somehow shoulder all the work alone. And even though you may on one level sense that you are getting more and more exhausted, another part of you is in denial. You tell yourself you can manage.

This is a time to step back and think things over.

If friends are suggesting you are doing too much, listen to them. The reality is that we are all finite. We have our limits. We at times have to lean on others.
This is where respite care comes in. Respite care can take different forms, but the goal is the same—to provide respite, to provide needed breaks for the caregiver.

You may have relatives, members of your church family or other friends who are able to come in and give you a regular break. There are also commercial services that will provide trained and reliable help. Another possibility is for your loved one to occasionally spend time at an assisted living facility or, if more support is needed, in a nursing home.
Whatever kind of respite care you decide on there are a few points worth bearing in mind.

  • Wherever possible involve your loved one in the decision. Help them understand that you are not trying to avoid them, but are simply getting a break so that you can provide better care.
  • Make a point of planning regular respite care. It is not something you deserve, it is something you need and need regularly.
  • Planning for respite care is something that requires time. Try to be as organized as possible and it will be less of a burden. Keep up-to-date lists of healthcare providers, medications, contact phone numbers, and anything you think a respite caregiver should know.
Do advance background research into agencies that provide respite care.

If you are relying on friends and relatives, consider using an online service such as lotsahelpinghands.com to coordinate all those who are helping. And if the work of organizing respite care becomes itself too much of a burden, consider asking a friend to help you with this.

Remember that human beings are here not only to help one another but also to be helped. We all need help from others from time to time. Reach out to others and lean on them. Do not forget that the caregiver also needs care.

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