Anyone who has ever taken care of someone who needs heavy duty physical or emotional support—whether that’s a newborn or an elderly family member or someone dealing with a serious diagnosis or chronic illness—knows how exhausting and stressful the caregiving role can be. Of course it can be highly rewarding and meaningful too, but it’s hard to appreciate the blessings that come from caregiving if you are bone-tired or emotionally drained.
As with any challenging situation, finding others who can relate to your experiences and concerns and offer wisdom from the trenches is always helpful. The role of caregiver, however, can be uniquely isolating. Often caregivers are in a home or hospital setting removed from their usual social network, or so busy doing the caregiving that taking personal time to rest and refresh feels frivolous or selfish. But it is not!
In fact, making sure you give yourself adequate self-care is the first point covered in the Powerful Tools for Caregivers class offered by Roper St. Francis Advantage. “It’s the same premise as a flight attendant informing passengers to put their oxygen mask on first before assisting someone else. If you’re not in top form, you can’t give the best care,” says Peggy Chausse, program manager for Advantage, who is trained in the evidence-based Caring for Caregivers curriculum.
In addition to developing a self-care toolbox, the six-week course delves into five other keys to being a well-cared for caregiver:
- Tips for identifying and effectively managing personal stress
- The need for communicating feelings, needs and concerns
- Tools for better communicating in challenging situations
- How to listen to and learn from your emotions
- Mastering making hard decisions
If you or someone you love is struggling with the isolation, stress and exhaustion of being a caregiver, remember the first rule: the caregiver needs care too. Unfortunately that imperative can sound like just one more thing added to the caregiver’s already overloaded plate. But Roper St. Francis Healthcare has powerful tools to help. To find out more about the course or other resources for support, go to http://www.rsfh.com/advantage/programs/.