Providing care for an aging friend or family member is an inevitable part of life. As our elders’ transition through the later stages of life, they will require more attention and care from those around them. If you find yourself in a situation where you are a primary caregiver for a senior citizen, you might feel as you’re adrift at sea—caregiving can be a confusing experience.

Caring for an aging friend/family member is multi-faceted and comes with significant demands on a caregiver’s time and energy. You could be facing financial barriers, accessing emergency care, medication and rehabilitation programs. You might be in search of adequate housing, reliable transportation or securing continuing care services. These are heavy burdens for one person to carry, but there are ways to cope.

Here are a few (immediate) things caregivers can do to ease the burden:

Make time for you

Despite what you might think, this is a selfless act. Taking a break from caregiving, even if just for an hour, can help you feel refreshed and fortified, making you better able to tackle the day-to-day stress of being a full-time caregiver.

Practice self-care

Eat balanced meals, prioritize sleep and connect with your doctor about any continuing problems. As they say: put on your own oxygen mask first.

Know your limits

You can’t be everything for everyone—nor should you be. Take advantage of local resources that can provide physical, emotional, and psychological support to you as a caregiver.

Ask for help

Don’t stew in feelings of isolation, anger or frustration. You are not alone in your experience. It’s normal to these things. Reach out to local support groups or a counselor. Having a group of peers who understand what you’re going through, or someone who can offer unbiased advice can provide peace of mind.

Plan for the future

Utilize professionals who can help you plan for legal, financial, or long-term health issues before they materialize. Prepare yourself for the inevitability that your care recipient’s status will change, and you may not be able to help any further. If necessary, seek guidance for end-of-life issues

We can help if your struggling with:

  • Feeling overwhelmed, lonely or isolated
  • Trouble balancing work, family and your caregiving responsibilities
  • Navigating the healthcare system, finding available resources
  • Stress-related physical conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems or insomnia
  • Anger (sometimes leading to physical violence)
  • Dissatisfaction with life

As the age-related issues become more complex, it can become difficult to continue providing quality care as the demands on caregivers’ time and energy increases. It becomes increasingly important for caregivers to connect with a sympathetic support network during these times.