9 Ways to Have Independence While Caregiving


Independent from caregiving

Maintaining your independence when caregiving is important for your peace of mind. “Self” can easily get lost if you don’t guard against it.

What can you do to have independence yet care for your loved one? Here are nine strategies to help you strike a balance between your responsibilities and your freedom.

Prioritizing Self-Care with Boundaries

If you’re caring for your mother or father, it’s easy to fall into the trap of submersing yourself in responsibility. But be aware of how much time you are spending giving care. You’ll want to define specific times for caregiving tasks and for your personal time.

Schedule regular breaks for relaxation. Make the time to do the things you love. You may not have a lot of time to do these, but with the effort, you’ll at least have a break. Your self-care should be prioritized. You’re not good to anyone if you are burnt out.

If you work, having the paid caregiver stay an hour or two later, one or two nights a week, can give you a break.

When my mother taught, and my grandmother was housebound, mom stopped for one to two hours after work daily and then went about her business. She had help during the day and on Wednesdays, would have the paid caregiver stay later so that mom could take a horseback riding lesson.

Just that once-a-week break eased her mind and gave her exercise. Make sure you delegate tasks, especially those that don’t really need your full attention.

Here’s another article that might help: How to Find Home Health Care for Aged Parents

Use Effective Time Management

Creating a routine helps. For example, eating, bathing and dressing in the morning is followed by personal time for you. A structured schedule creates stability for your mom or dad and gives you a way to schedule time for yourself.

Leverage technology like apps and tools to manage appointments. Use reminders and tasks efficiently. Or if you’re old school, use a small calendar you can carry in your handbag. The more you stay organized, the easier it is to manage your time effectively.

Open Communication Keeps Peace

These are your parents, and they love you. They don’t want to be in this position either. They’re going to want to help you as well.

Communicate your needs for some personal time. Let them know you’ll be a phone call away, but you need some me time. If your parents are not of a mind to understand, it’s time to bring in reinforcements.

Where’re your siblings? Ask them to pitch in for some paid caregiving support if they aren’t around. The only way you’ll receive help is if you communicate.

My aunt lived in another state when my grandmother wasn’t well. She couldn’t physically help. But she did help financially with the paid home health aide.

Maintain Flexibility and Adaption

The only thing that separates us from the beasts is our ability to adapt. I heard that phrase from an old boyfriend when I was young. It stuck with me.

You’ll need to embrace change. Yes, a schedule is essential, but things change, and you must be ready to adjust. Aged adults aren’t good with change, so you’ll need to be strong.

Develop coping strategies to navigate challenges and unexpected situations. Some coping strategies include:

  • deep breathing – pregnant women aren’t the only ones who need Lamaze lessons
  • meditation – helps you acknowledge and accept your thoughts and experiences
  • cognitive restructuring – helps identify and modify negative thoughts
  • distraction – use pleasurable activities to distract yourself from a stressful event
  • humor – make light of stressful situations

By developing coping strategies, you will become resilient. This will help you navigate challenges and unexpected situations.

Here’s another article that might help: Moving an Aged Parent into Your Home

Hobbies and Personal Space

Do you have a basement or attic room? Find a space in your house that belongs to only you. It’s your place to unwind. Ensure others in the house realize it’s your “club house”, and no one is allowed there.

Have you ever seen The Big Bang Theory episode where Bernadette hid in the playhouse after work to avoid her family and wind down? Find your playhouse and hide.

If you have a hobby, make a rule that you are not to be bothered when working on your hobby. Give yourself at least an hour to do your own thing. Your joy is critical; if your space or hobby gives you that joy, it’s your right to have it.

Don’t Forget to Ask for Help

You can’t and shouldn’t do this all by yourself. Ask for assistance. Go to friends, family or community resources.

If there’s a senior center, can your parents go there a couple of times a week? If you have the wherewithal, respite care is also a periodic option. You can take short breaks while your loved one is being cared for.

Social Connections Important

Don’t ignore your friends. You must maintain your social network. You can stay in touch, even if it’s just a phone call or texting.

Have a coffee klatch or cocktail hour over Zoom. Keeping in touch can be a lifeline. When possible, even if you’re tired, go to social gatherings. The stimulation will make you feel better.

Connecting socially should be scheduled as part of your routine. Carve out a couple of hours a week to reconnect with friends and family.

Learning and Personal Growth

Sometimes when caring for someone, you start to think your brain is atrophying. Continue learning to stimulate yourself.

Have you always wanted to finish your degree or advance it? You may think you’re too busy, but an online course or workshop will stimulate your brain. I’m not talking about a full load, just one class.

If this isn’t your thing, spend some time diving into a book or article. Explore new interests and enjoy personal growth while relaxing.

Here’s another article that might help: Living with a Difficult Aged Parent

Professional Guidance Helps

Besides the time commitment, there’s a lot of stress and sometimes resentment that comes with caring for a mother or father.

Consider seeking professional guidance. If you don’t have time to go to an office, use a telehealth service.

You can receive help over the phone, via Zoom or through texting. Another perspective could be a lifesaver. You may also learn more coping techniques.

A Caregiver Walks a Tenuous Tightrope

Maintaining your independence requires a delicate balance with proactive strategies. You can remain physically and emotionally sound by setting boundaries, prioritizing self-care, and communicating.

This will actually allow you to help your loved one in a deeper way. Take care of yourself; you’re amazing.

Anne Johnson

Anne is both a writer and a Nana. She attended University of Akron and went on to have a career in television sales. She now writes and promotes the multigenerational lifestyle. Currently she resides in South Carolina with her husband, two cats, a horse and fabulous grands.

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