Magic Moments ~ *Balancing Life as a Caregiver*

… approximately 20 million Americans (one out of eight baby boomers) are juggling taking care of an older parent while raising or supporting a child. In Wyoming some 72,000 family caregivers make tremendous sacrifices at home and in their careers to care for a loved one. (Oshinnaiye, C.; Seven Tips for Better Life Balance; The Wyoming Sage, January, 2013)

Over the past few years, I have been the primary caregiving family member for our Dad, now 92+!! Balancing multiple roles added to daily life as we take on such responsibilities can be overwhelming, to say the very least. Some common stressors caregivers experience include:

  • Fear / Uncertainty with heavy responsibilities / Some “scary situations”
  • Shifts in Roles
  • Financial Pressures
  • Isolation / Less connection with others outside the home
  • Little time alone / Potential demands for constant caregiving
  • Guilt / Burn out / Frustration

Despite these great challenges, most caregivers want to be totally supportive of those who need their care and, as a result, many struggle to balance their personal lives. According the Wyoming Sage article mentioned above, the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP have found that average family caregivers spend almost 20 hours/week in tasks such as meal planning and preparation, record-keeping & bill paying, transporting the care receiver to appointments and events. In my case, keeping Dad safe yet as independent as possible (because he is pretty vibrant and feisty!) is continually on my mind ~~ my mission. Balancing my life continues to be challenging, however I try to ‘practice what I preach’!! SO … try some of these ways to bring more calmness into your life (As I do!:-):

  • Delegate responsibility, look for help outside the home ~ reach out to family, friends, social groups, home health care, and others … You need not do it alone.
  • Take time for yourself ~~ take care of your own health & wellbeing ~ find ways to reduce STRESS (Ahhhhh … Yoga practice, walks, meditation, workouts, movies, long baths … Ahhhhh)
  • Discuss your feelings & emotions with close friends, clergy members, professional counselors, support group members ~ it IS okay ~ many have been “there” ~ and they are so willing to listen to you ~ this WILL help reduce your stress.
  • Last ~~ but NOT Least … BREATHE ~~ Inhale ~ Exhale ~ Repeat.

(PS ~ Check out www.aarp.org/caregiving for more information)