Without a doubt, becoming a family caregiver can have an impact on all of your other relationships. Whether you took on the caregiver role gradually or suddenly, that role becomes the main priority in your life. Before you know it, almost all of your personal obligations become secondary, but you tell yourself, “this is only for a little while”. However, it’s easy for a little while to become weeks, months, and eventually years. You don’t want to look up one day and find that all of your other relationships are suffering. After all, socialization is a part of self-care and not taking care of yourself can impact your role as caregiver. Here are a few suggestions to help maintain your other relationships.
Maintaining Your Marriage as a Caregiver
The relationship you have with your significant other is one that always has to be poured into. And it’s not just for them, but you too. Studies show that full-time caregivers are at an increased risk for substance abuse, health issues, and depression and anxiety. Fortunately, self-care and balance can reduce such risks. Some ways to stay present with your partner is:
Keeping the lines of communication open and judgment-free
Doing simple acts such as complimenting them
Setting aside time for a date-night, even if it’s just snuggling up watching movies in the living room
Actively listening to your partner
These few acts can help alleviate feelings of resentment and neglect in your relationship. Overall, you’ll need to be a team and be realistic about the changes that need to take place. A supportive partner can make it easier to get through it all.
Maintaining Your Relationship With Your Children
If you happen to take care of both your parents and your children, then you are in what’s called “the sandwich generation”. Those who take on this role are not only providing financial and care support to their parents and children, but emotional support. It’s easy to always feel like your shortchanging one when you’re providing support and care to the other. However, there’s a way to help both generations and also help yourself! The best thing you can do for your children is to explain that their elders will need help sometimes. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that they want to help, which can ease the burden on you. For instance, if your parents like to play card or board games and your children are old enough to play, then let them play together. Your children will feel helpful and your parents will feel good knowing that they taught them something new. While not every family dynamic will work that way, the best thing you can do is to clearly communicate and set boundaries.
Maintaining your Friendships as a Caregiver
When you’re caring for an aging parent, it’s easy to cancel on a friend, not respond to a phone call or text message, and forego almost all social festivities. You may find that even though you want to maintain your friendships, you just don’t have the energy to do so. On top of that, you may feel guilty if you choose your friends over your parents. As we stated about other relationships, you must clearly communicate about what’s going on. Your friends may be going through the same thing too! You’ll need your friends to occasionally vent, workout together, and just let your guard down.
Overall, You Don’t Have to do it Alone
Everyone on this list is considered a part of your support system. You need them and they need you. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries to refill your own cup. Be clear about your priorities so you don’t enter a downward spiral of broken relationships and ongoing burnout. Also, don’t forget that there are professionals out there that can give your parents the quality care they need on the days you need to refresh. At Community Home Health Care, we have Personal Care Aides, Trained Companions, and Home Health Aides, who are ready to provide part-time and full-time assistance. You owe it to yourself and it’ll improve not only your quality of life but everyone else in your circle too. Contact us today to learn how we can best help your situation.