Many caregivers are used to putting others before themselves and have a tough time saying no to additional requests for their time and energy. FirstLight Home Care shares four tips that help caregivers consider their own needs and well-being before saying yes out of habit.
Caregiver burnout is real. Something that contributes to the stress is that many caregivers have a hard time saying no.
Whether it’s someone asking for help with their own caregiving responsibilities, a friend expecting their attendance at an event, or a boss asking them to work late, caregivers are often sympathetic to the needs of others and can neglect their own.
But when a caregiver constantly puts others above themselves, they risk the real repercussions of stretching themselves too thin, and could fall ill or face other physical or mental health issues themselves.
Even though it’s hard to say no when presented with a request from a friend, family member or acquaintance, caregivers should ask themselves whether this request for their time is really necessary or if it’s something that can wait, be postponed or declined.
Here are four tips that help caregivers think about their own well-being before saying yes to everyone and everything.
1. Create a calendar of your caregiving responsibilities
Once you see it in black and white, you might be surprised how little “extra” time you have to devote to others.
While it’s admirable to give your time to friends and family, it doesn’t mean you need to give ALL your time.
Once you have an actual calendar to refer to, you can say with confidence that you’re really booked up.
2. Schedule “me” time
Once your calendar is created, look for blocks of time when you can do something just for you, without feeling guilty about it.
Whether it’s a taking nap or thirty minutes set aside to just sit and read a magazine or watch your favorite TV show, it’s your time.
If someone asks a favor during your “me” time, explain you have a previous engagement that you are obligated to attend.
And, no, you do not need to explain yourself!
3. Decide what’s necessary and what is not
Do you run yourself ragged dashing around trying to make everything perfect for everyone else?
Every time you are asked to take on anything additional, ask yourself if the task is necessary or if it is something the person requesting your help with really needs.
4. Practice asking others for their help
When caregiving feels as if it is consuming you, and you are at a breaking point, learn to ask for help.
When you reach out for assistance, it allows others to see that you are not bulletproof.
People can sometimes take advantage of those who are kind and caring without realizing it, and may need a reminder that while you are a dedicated caregiver, you have needs too.
Not every caregiving situation is the same, but burnout is a common occurrence.
According to aginginplace.com, about 20% of caregivers are caring for a parent and a whopping 85% of caregivers never receive any respite from their duties.
More alarming is the fact that approximately 20-40% of caregivers suffer from depression during the caregiving journey.
As a caregiver, when you are feeling overwhelmed, you can take charge of your health and happiness by being more firm and forthright with both the parent you are caring for and with others who are close to you.
Some experts suggest saying no in a mirror, and even creating a blanket response to have at the ready so that you become more comfortable saying it.
While it might be easier to say yes, there is nothing wrong with saying no.
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Guest contributor: Carol Nelson, RN, BSN, MBA, is Healthcare Solutions Manager for FirstLight Home Care. With more than 35 years of experience in Medicare and private duty home care services, hospice and palliative care, and assisted living management, Carol has a heart for service and a dedication to the health and well-being of older adults.
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