Caregiving Demands: Finding Balance With The Never Ending “To Do” List

By Pamela D Wilson MS, BS/BA, CSA, NCG

It is difficult to find balance in caregiving relationships when most caregivers have a never ending “to do” list. How often do caregivers feel that they are constantly running from place to place with a list rarely completed. The care recipient waits on the other end demanding time and attention If you are a caregiver this may describe your day to day reality; never enough time in the day. Never any time for you.

While it is true that we decide how we spend our time, when we accept the role of a caregiver, some of these decisions are made as the result of feelings of duty, responsibility or guilt. In my book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes® the importance of balancing caregiving relationships is discussed as well as the importance of caregivers taking time away from the role of caregiving.

While the life of a caregiver may be hectic and constantly busy, the life of a care recipient may be a life of boredom and isolation. Have you considered how slowly the clock ticks for an aging parent or loved one who may be confined to home because of physical disabilities or health concerns? Have you considered why a loved one diagnosed with memory loss may exhibit problematic behaviors when left alone for long periods of time?

The Importance of Compassion

In my 20+ years as a caregiving advocate and a family caregiver who lost 50% of my family by the age of 40 years, I am very familiar with the challenges of caregiving. Caregivers benefit from support and connecting with others in similar situations. At times the stress can be overwhelming. The role of caregiving makes us hyper-vigilant waiting for the next disastrous phone call or other problem that has to be solved quickly. Family disagreements and conflict occur. There are times when we can’t make anyone happy.

How many of you have a dog who has at one time or another gotten into a bit of trouble, maybe chewing up your most expensive pair of shoes or destroying a piece of furniture? If so you likely learned that the dog’s behaviors occurred as the result of a need for more stimulation, companionship or exercise. While comparing the behaviors of a pet to the behaviors of a care recipient may seem degrading, the premise is the same. When a care recipient or a pet is left alone for long periods of time with no activity, human contact or mental stimulation negative behaviors occur.

When you return home, your care recipient craves attention and wants to be with you. Your only desire after a long day at work with many demands may be to retreat to a bubble bath or to read the evening newspaper and drink a glass of wine. You may be exhausted and your plan was not to devote more time and attention to a spouse or a parent care recipient—yet this may be exactly the action that you take.

What Choices Are You Making To Relieve Caregiver Stress?

What about you? Statistics indicate that caregivers experience high levels of stress, anxiety, chronic disease and depression. While it may seem impossible to take time away from a caregiving situation, taking time away is exactly what you must do if you hope to manage your physical and emotional health.

Find a family member or a friend who might spend an evening or a weekend day with your loved one or hire a caregiving companion agency to provide support. Little breaks, even if only for a few hours here and there, are beneficial to your ability to continue in the role of a caregiver without experiencing feelings of frustration and anger—common to many caregiving situations. You are not alone.

Caregiver support in the form of information like articles, podcasts, or videos that offer practical information are supportive. Interaction in live groups is also beneficial to increase self-esteem and confidence in making caregiving decisions. The ability to search for information that is of interest in a library is another option.

Navigate Common Caregiving Situations in Six Simple Steps

Many caregivers, when overwhelmed, freeze and fail to take action. If you don’t change the dynamic of your situation where will you be in one week, one month or one year? In exactly the same overwhelmed place? Taking action to receive support will help you feel more in control of your caregiving situation.

Below are 6 choices receive valuable support based on my personal experience as a caregiving advocate. Reduce anxiety, stress, frustration, or guilt and gain confidence and improve self-esteem. It’s all good from here. These tips and information will also help you successfully navigate many common caregiving situations.

©2014 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

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