Question: I am caring for my husband who has high physical needs. I am doing everything for him right now and starting to feel overwhelmed. What can I do?
Answer: Thank you for your question. A caregiver’s role is all-encompassing. You are helping someone who is not able to do for him or herself. It can include help with personal cares, meal preparation, shopping, paying bills, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, etc. As caregivers, we don’t always take the time to think about all the tasks we are doing and are more likely to be thinking about just getting through the day and completing the tasks that need to be done. Taking on all of these tasks on a regular basis can lead to caregiver burnout as it is difficult to sustain this level on a long-term basis. There could be serious repercussions for someone in the caregiving role who is burnt out and not looking out for his/her own needs because they are so focused on their loved one’s needs.
Since you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it might be time to sit down and take stock of your situation. It might be helpful to make a list of the things you are doing day-to-day and a list of people in your life who have offered to help. See if you can match a person to a task that would help to take something off your plate. It may be hard to admit to family and friends that you need help, but also consider that the people who are offering genuinely want to help. It may benefit them as well, as they get to do something for someone that makes them feel good. It may be something as simple as the neighbor taking your garbage cans to the curb or a family member making a meal for you and your husband on a weekly or monthly basis. It could be someone coming to be with your husband for a few hours to allow you time to do something for yourself.
You could also look at ways of using technology to help you in your day-to-day tasks. If writing out bills every month is something that drains you, consider setting up automatic payments. If there are a lot of appointments, using an electronic calendar that offers reminders of upcoming appointments might be helpful. If you are not tech savvy, talk with family and friends who might be able to help you with setting up some of these things.
Reach out to ADRC at (920) 448-4300 for more of a discussion on the resources available to help. An Information and Assistance Specialist can talk with you about your unique situation and offer resource options for help in the home, meals, support groups, and possible funding options. While providing care can be rewarding, it can also be draining. Seeking out ways to make things easier for you can help prolong your ability to continue in your role.