Balancing Elder Care with Other Relationships in Your Life

Everyone who cares for an elderly relative has probably felt guilty a few times in their life. Whether they are feeling guilty for leaving their elderly relative or feeling guilty for neglecting the other people and things in their life, guilt is a common feeling of caregivers. Many people who care for elderly relatives and loved ones struggle to find a balance between caring for their loved one and having their own life. They feel like they should always be at the beck and call of their elderly loved one, and in turn, may neglect some of the other relationships in their lives. The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) has actually estimated that 53% of caregivers do feel as if they are jeopardizing their relationships with other family members and friends in their life while they are taking care of their elderly loved ones. If you are a caregiver and are struggling to find a balance, then keep reading to find out the best way of balancing elder care with other relationships in your life.

Remind Yourself Daily that Relationships Outside of Your Caregiving Role Are Important

If you are constantly prioritizing the needs of your elderly loved one over yourself and others, then you need to make a point to remind yourself each day to readjust your priorities. As a caregiver, it may seem natural to give all of your attention to your elderly loved one, but it is vital for your overall health and wellbeing that you make time for all of your friends and family members in your life. It is often easy to take our friends and family members for granted because they are always there for us, but when push comes to shove and stress levels rise, it is vital to have great relationships with your friends and family. At times of high stress, you will not be able to do your job as well as you can, and you will need your friends in order to reboot. If you have not prioritized the relationships with your friends however, then they may not be there for you in your high stress times. For this reason, it is vital that you consistently remind yourself to facilitate the relationships between your friends and family members outside of your caregiving role. Also, it is key to deliberately listen to your friends and family members for any complaints or issues they may have. If you pay attention to small cues from them that your relationships are failing, then you may be able to fix the problem before it becomes a huge issue.

Create Mini-Events and Traditions that You Always Honor

If you constantly feel that you do not have time for other people in your life, then try creating mini-traditions with each special person in your life. The tradition can be as simple as having lunch on a monthly basis. Always keep the tradition alive, and the relationship will stay strong as your life gets hectic. These mini-traditions will also offer you a break from your daily life of caregiving and keep you stress free and happy.

Be There for Your Friends and Family Members, No Matter How Hard it May Seem

Often, issues and problems that your friends have may seem a little frivolous compared to what you see and hear on a daily basis during your caregiving job. Even so, it is important to remember that your friends’ issues are still very important to them and should hold your attention. Caregiving is an intense job and business, and sometimes it is difficult to leave your job at home once you leave. However, it is vital for your health and happiness that you continue to relax by going out with friends and listening to their issues. Simply conversing with your friends and family members and listening to how their days went can help you decompress from your caregiving role and help maintain relationships.

Try Not to Vent too Often

Venting about your job may come naturally, but to keep your friends and family members interested, try not to sound like a broken record. If you are constantly talking about your job and the hardships that come along with it, your friends and family members may grow bored. After a while, they may stop interacting with you, because they feel like you are monopolizing conversations. Always be conscious of being both a listener and a communicator and your relationships will flourish.

Find a Caregiver Support Community Online

One of the best pieces of advices for caregivers is to find an online or an offline support group. These groups are comprised of present and past caregivers. Offline groups meet on a regular basis to talk to each other about caregiving and daily life. Online support groups are often formatted like forums, and allow you to talk freely with members who are online. Support groups allow you to vent to people who understand your caregiving woes, and can help you make new friends who truly understand your caregiving role.

Let Unhealthy Relationships Die

Finally, if you are trying to facilitate unhealthy relationships, or one-sided relationships, then you may simply want to let these relationships die. While this may be difficult at first, in the long run, letting certain relationships go can really help you grow as a person and be happier. Friendships that are unhealthy can lead to stress for you, and can affect your job and your relationships with others.

Being a caregiver can be a difficult and taxing job, especially if you are doing it all by yourself. One of the hardest occupational hazards of caregivers is that they often report struggling to maintain their relationships with family and friends. If you can relate to this issue, then follow our tips to ensure that you are doing your part to facilitate all of the relationships in your life. Overall, simply remember to take time off from your caregiving role and make time for your friends and family. This will allow you to keep your relationships strong and decompress from the stresses of your caregiving life.

Check out these articles in our home care blog that discuss being a caregiver: