Attention caregivers: three ways to not do it all
Whether you suddenly or gradually become a caregiver for an elderly, ailing or disabled adult family member or friend, the additional responsibilities of caregiving can be daunting.
As a caregiver, you may want to do it all, but you simply cannot. Three ways to help prevent you from doing it all are to set goals, learn to say no and give up unnecessary responsibilities.
There is so much to do. Where do I even begin?
A first step in de-cluttering your to-do list as a caregiver is to set goals. When setting goals, identify what caregiving tasks demand immediate attention and focus on those tasks. It is easy to become overwhelmed by every possible thing that could be done. However, everything that could be done does not mean everything needs to be done. Ask yourself, realistically, why something needs done. If the answer is about safety or health, it is a priority task. Examples of safety or health issues are wandering or not taking medications correctly. If the issue is one that you want to change because it annoys you, it is not a priority.
Examples of an annoying issue are a loved one choosing to eat with his or her hands. Once a task has been identified, goals for that task can be set by determining who will make what change by how much and by when. Write the task and goals down. Be specific. Plan and share what you have decided with other involved caregivers. Identifying tasks and setting realistic goals can help you stay organized giving you a sense of needed accomplishment.
As a caregiver, I feel like I have to say yes to everything. Can I say no?
Simply stated, you must learn to say no. Often caregivers find themselves unsuccessfully trying to meet the constant demands of the care receiver, while working to maintain their own life. It is important to decide what you are able and willing to do, set limits and stand firm in the care boundaries you establish. It may be difficult to determine what you should say no to. Try to determine what jobs cause you the most stress as a caregiver and remove those tasks from your list of responsibilities if you can.
I have too much on my plate. What can I give up?
As additional responsibilities are being added, caregivers don’t usually stop to think about what they should let go. Take a look at your daily life. Evaluate personal responsibilities, as well as those associated with being a caregiver. There are likely activities or tasks that are unnecessary. If there are activities that you are continuing because you feel obligated, consider letting those go. Pay attention to even the smallest tasks you do on a regular basis. Are there time wasters or unneeded energy zappers? If so, let them go.
It is important to realize that you cannot do it all as a caregiver. Setting goals, saying no and giving up unnecessary obligations can help relieve caregiver stress and maintain clarity in caregiving responsibilities. Keep in mind, being a good caregiver does NOT mean you have to do it all.