heartDo you tend to care for others and forget about yourself?

Are you a care giver on an ongoing basis?

Whether you’re caring for others as a part of every day living or you care for someone regularly, a healthy approach to caregiving is essential to the life and longevity of the care giver as well as the care receiver.

Although well intentioned, doing everything for the care receiver can spell disaster for both in the long run. Maintaining a balanced care partnership requires a conscious effort from both parties to take responsibility for a healthy life together.

Below are six steps you can take to ensure a healthy relationship with your care receiver, one that will result in the best quality of life for both of you.

1. Create Independence Not Co-Dependence. In our desire to help our care receiver have the very best quality life, it is easy for care givers to fall into the trap of doing everything for the care receiver, causing them to be overly dependent. Although the intentions are good, doing too much for the care receiver tends to make them unable to cope with their health issues, makes them feel helpless, and puts too much work and responsibility  on the care giver, eventually leading to care-giver burnout.

If you are caring for a child, be sure to gradually increase the child’s responsibility for their own care as they mature and become able to understand their needs and the tasks they can and must do to care for themselves.

If you are caring for an adult, make sure they take responsibility for caring for themselves to the extent they are able.

a. Don’t do daily tasks that the care receiver can do for themselves.caregiver

b. Openly discuss what must be done and who does what.

c. Refuse to be manipulated by a care receiver who wants you to do everything for them.

d. Stay informed about the health of the care receiver and be sure the care receiver, if age
appropriate, remains well informed about their health status as well.

2. Be willing to accept help from others. Many care givers struggle with this issue. Sometimes pride can lead care givers to insist they are the only ones who can provide quality care for the care receiver. The care giver who doesn’t learn to accept help eventually may find their health and well being suffering greatly. In extreme cases, the care giver may die a premature death due to exhaustion before the care receiver passes away or, in happier circumstances, recovers from their illness.

3. Take advantage of help provided by local agencies and hospitals. Check for resources on the Internet. For complete listings and contact information for help agencies in your state, type: www. (your state name).gov into your Internet browser. Just doing this should give you access to an extensive list of help agencies throughout your state.

4. Maintain your interests, hobbies, and friendships to the greatest degree possible. It is important to nurture your personal identity beyond your care-giver role. Your interests, hobbies and friendships are necessary to help you maintain a broader view of the world beyond your care-giver status. Keeping up with the activities and people you love will help you to maintain your own physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional health and balance. Once again this may mean asking others to take care of your care receiver sometimes. It may also mean taking them to a care facility occasionally so that you can feel free to pursue activities that you enjoy and that refresh your own mind and spirit.

Do not allow guilty feelings to cloud your thinking regarding the necessity and fairness of leaving your care receiver with other qualified care givers.

The C Club Pictures 0035. Surround yourself with those who will encourage you and support your self-maintenance. 

• Join a positive support group. If you find yourself in a gathering of negative people, drop the group immediately. Only stay in groups that are truly positive and supportive.

• Avoid negative people who criticize the way you are caring for your care receiver. Remember that they don’t know the difficulties of your journey unless and until they have made the effort to take this journey with you!

• Avoid those who try to make you feel guilty about your self-care.

• Confront negative people and negative remarks; if you are able, drop negative people from your life and from that of your care receiver.

6. Remember you are not the person you care for. In all that you do, be aware of the fact that you are a separate person with your own needs, different than that of your care receiver. It is very important to draw distinct boundaries in this regard. It may seem strange, but there are many care givers who become emotionally lost in the identity of the care receiver.

In time, this gives way to an emotional melting of the two together, which becomes unhealthy for both, but especially for the care giver. It is at this point that the health and well-being of the care giver becomes compromised.

Remember that you as the care giver should walk BESIDE the care receiver, but never INSIDE their emotional life and identity.
About This Guest Blogger

georgeanvorwerkAmong her other activities, Georgean Vorwerk has walked the care giver role to her husband for 41 years.

She has written, designed, and presented her workshop for care givers and their care receivers to various groups. The workshop is titled, “Keeping the Promise; Being a Caregiver to your Partner with Chronic Illness.”

To invite her to speak for your group or if you have questions, you may write to her at: gvorwerk@ameritech.net.

Feel free to share your thoughts and questions on this blog article.

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