Consider, if you will, a beautiful boat floating gracefully across the water, looking so serene and peaceful. It’s a scene that has been the basis of many photos and paintings. Have you ever taken a moment to consider a more in-depth look at those kinds of pictures: What is going on below deck, beneath the hull, and what might be hidden within that picturesque scene? Perhaps there is a small hole in that boat, or a crack in the hull that goes unnoticed that if left unfixed could cause that boat to sink.
Can the same be said about caregivers? Do you go about the day-to-day routine doing the best that you can for your loved one, helping them with tasks, making things as stress-free for them as you possibly can? All the while, behind the scenes, you are increasing the stress and cracks in your armour by doing more and more? This devotion shows how much you love your family, but putting them first comes at a price.
Caregiving is all about a balance between the person you are caring for and taking some time to care for yourself, too. You need to take that time to fix those small holes or stress cracks in your boat so you don’t sink. Formal supports are a good resource. It may take some time to get your loved one into the routine of having a PSW visit, attending a day program or engaging in other activities, but there are so many benefits once that routine is established. Not only do these supports allow a break for you as the caregiver, but they also provide additional stimulation through conversation and activities for your loved one.
Connecting with other caregivers also has many benefits. A fellow caregiver can understand that similar journey you both share. Caregivers can draw from personal experiences and offer a listening ear, suggestions that you can find very useful, or even check-ins to make sure you are doing okay. A great place to connect with other spouse or children caregivers is through a support group. Whether you are sharing stories and suggestions or discovering a starting place to begin a friendship or connection, you might be surprised at who you could meet.
If connecting or being face-to-face seems overwhelming to you, there are other supports available. Consider virtual support groups or counselling sessions – you can still receive the support you need in the comfort of your own home. Learn more about our supports here at McCormick Dementia Services. So power up that computer or tablet and give it a try. As you enjoy the summer weather at the cottage or beach, take a moment to consider what supports you need to keep yourself and “your boat” afloat!