We spend a lot of time talking about children, but what about the older generations? As we progress through time, so many adult children are finding themselves taking care of their parents. In some cases, there is no serious mental or physical illness, but at times there can be severe illnesses. According to comfortkeepers.com, adults spend an average of 44 hours a week caregiving, for a loved one. Caregiving can range from grocery shopping, meal prepping, managing finances and medications, to transportation for doctors appointments and other activities.
There are numerous benefits to taking care of your own family members as they age. However, when we are taking care of someone else, we tend to forget about ourselves or make ourselves a second priority. Caregiving can create feelings of guilt and worry, and overall fatigue. Many caregivers suffer from depression and strain in their other personal relationships. Especially during this time of the pandemic, isolation of caregivers is even greater as their loved ones are typically at higher risk of contracting the virus and rigid safety precautions around social distancing are put into place.
Compassion fatigue is extremely common, and particularly high in caregivers who were not given a choice in caregiving. This can be dangerous because it can strain relationships, break down communication, and cause resentment of yourself and the people you care about.
So what do you do?
- Make self care a priority: You can’t pour from an empty cup. As wrong as it may feel to take a break and put yourself first, you must if you want to keep going. Explore different options for self care like aromatherapy, massage, baths, exercise.
- Join a support group: Talking to people who have a similar experience gives you the time and space to vent. To compare your experience with others and gain insights and connections to make yourself feel more supported.
- Spend time with friends: Remember that your own socialization is important. Be fully present when engaging in other relationships to give your mind a break and establish connection with others who can give back to you.
- Spend time on hobbies: Your life cannot revolve around taking care of someone else. Not in a long term way. You are deserving of an enriching and interesting life and there is no need for guilt when you take time to pursue these other interests.
There are multitudes of resources to check out. Comfortkeepers.com can help connect you with more information and supports such as financial and paying for care, and your own self care. And as always, reach out to a therapist for further support and connections to supplemental resources.