The Caring Corner - Blog

As a Family Caregiver, Your Top Priority Should be Yourself

By Emma Dickison

 
Despite the best of intentions, family care-giving can quickly become a difficult and overwhelming task. Known as the “Sandwich Generation,” millions of Americans are understandably feeling the strain of caring for aging parents and raising families, all while managing demanding careers and tending to household duties.

Not only can this strain cause tension between you and your loved ones, but it could potentially compromise your health. One study done by Elissa Epel, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco found that family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely, taking as many as 10 years off your life!

Although it may seem selfish at first, your top priority as a family caregiver should always be yourself! You must be at your best in order to provide your loved ones the quality care and attention they deserve. The good news is there are several resources and support groups available to provide respite care and relieve much of this undue stress, including:

  • www.FamilyCaregiving101.org: Connects you with other family caregivers and provides access to support groups and organizations.
  • www.HomeHelpers.CC: Provides easy access to caregiver tips and resources, pertinent information and a national network of compassionate, qualified caregivers.

I know from personal experience that family caregiving can be a much more enjoyable experience once you recognize and accept there are limits to what you can accomplish alone. For over 20 years at any given time, my family was caring for at least two family members who were either in declining health or facing terminal illnesses. While we had quite a bit of family to help provide support, we hired supplemental care as well. As a result, we were less stressed and able to enjoy precious time with our loved ones.

When all is said and done, you want to cherish fond memories of spending quality time with your loved ones, not the strain and tension it caused.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s encouraged.