Pamela Wilson, author of the new book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes sent us some tips for maintaining “balanced emotions while caregiving.” I can’t keep my emotions balanced on a perfect day, never mind while caregiving, but I’m always open to advice.
Overall, she cautions caregivers not to take caregiving personally. Great point. As a caregiver, it’s natural to think, “Why doesn’t anyone see it from my perspective? What about me? Who’s considering my feelings?” The reality is, within the caregiving/care recipient relationship it’s usually not about you. You have to find that kind of support outside the relationship from friends, a partner, a counselor, a support group and through self care.
Here’s are Pamela’s tips about how to approach the person you care for.
1) Realize that this person has a right to their own life and the choices they make even if they don’t fit within your personal standards. Accept that their standards, ideals and personal practices are different from yours. Accept that their life history may be different from yours and realize you bring your own biases to the situation.
2) Remember that this person, who may be your parent, lived for many years, without your help. They were once totally independent. Help them do as much as possible for themselves so they don’t become too dependent on others prematurely. Independence fosters self-esteem and self-respect.
3) When you become frustrated with words or actions, walk away, take a break. Realize that frustration solves nothing and may only make the situation worse. Attempt to gain a new perspective. Work to see the situation from an opposite perspective.
4) Remember that this person needing care may be near the end of their life. They may be in pain or suffering or behave horribly. Think about the end of your life and the kind person you hope will care for you.