Have your feelings been bruised recently by someone for whom you’re providing care? You may be taking caregiving too personally. If you’re the caring type, you want to be helpful. But what happens when you become too helpful or become too controlling of the life of another person, especially IF this person IS family? Caregivers of all types have great difficulty setting boundaries between being helpful and taking control.
Balance in caregiving is a tightrope that challenges many caregivers and ruins many professional, personal and family relationships. For caregivers, feeling that we own the life of another is a danger sign that we’ve become too emotionally involved. The Care Navigator assesses situations of care and helps families plan and focus on what’s important. Here are 5 tips to help you maintain balance emotions in caregiving:
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. Eliminate judgment.
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. Eliminate the tendency to rescue.
3) Ask the person how you can help instead of telling them what you’re willing to do, then be willing to do what they ask. Understand that we’re all different and may arrive at the same ending or conclusion, but the journey we take to get there may be different. Eliminate control and offer choice.
4) 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. Doing this may help you become a more compassionate person and a better caregiver. Eliminate the possibility of harsh words that cannot be taken back. Eliminate guilt.
5) 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. Eliminate regret.
Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA, Certified Senior Advisor specializes in working with family and professional caregivers to navigate healthcare and aging concerns. Wilson, an expert in the field of caregiving, has personally helped thousands of family and professional caregivers since 2000 in her career as an advocate, a care navigator, and an educator. Through her company, The Care Navigator, she is an advocate and service provider in the roles of guardian, power of attorney, care manager, and transition specialist. She was producer and host of The Caring Generation®, from 2009 to 2011, an educational radio program for caregivers on 630 KHOW-AM. In addition to her work at the Care Navigator, Pamela gives back to the community by serving as chairperson of the Community Ethics Committee in Denver, Colorado.