A man by the name of Arthur L. Williams Jr. went from being a physical education teacher and high school football coach in Columbus, Georgia, to a mega star in the insurance world and beyond; even writing an inspiring book, "All You Can Do Is All You Can Do, But All You Can Do Is Enough."
It was one of the first of many books that I would read telling me how to make it in this world. Fast forward almost 30 years and I can tell you that I’m not rich and don’t own anything but my car, but I do know the value of working hard and perseverance and I am blessed beyond my greatest dreams with a wonderful wife and two awesome daughters.
I have to admit that there are some days when I ask myself if all I can do is enough. The demands of work, family and caregiving can pile up rather quickly.
Do you ever feel like there’s more on your plate than what you can eat? Me too. And we’re not alone.
Many folks fall into the category of caring for parents and children at the same time, while also trying to hold a full-time job and taking a little time for themselves. It’s a balancing act that even Barnum and Bailey can’t touch.
As the population ages, more caregiving is being provided by people who aren’t health care professionals. According to the Mayo Clinic, these informal caregivers provide 80 percent of long-term care in the United States.
As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don’t realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Some of the signs of caregiver stress include feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried, feeling tired most of the time, sleeping too much or too little, gaining or losing a lot of weight, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, and abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications.
The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
What can you do? First, accept help and be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be willing to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week. Someone else might offer to pick up groceries or cook for you.
Focus on what you are able to do. It’s normal to feel guilty sometimes, but understand that no one is a "perfect" caregiver. Believe that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you can at any given time. And set realistic goals, breaking large tasks into smaller steps that you can do one at a time. Prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine.
Lastly, get connected. Find out about caregiving resources in your community. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing. Care-giving services such as transportation, help at home and meal preparation may be available. A support group can provide validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations.
Take care of yourself first my friends so you can care for others more effectively.
For more information on support for the caregiver, contact The Edel Caregiver Institute in Savannah at 912-629-1331 or online at www.EdelCaregiverInstotute.org.
Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at SeniorMomentsWithRich@gmail.com.