Caring for a disabled family member can be very stressful, especially in the beginning. The physical strain of helping them with normal life tasks and the emotional burden of watching them struggle often drains all family members, particularly those playing an active role in the loved one's care.
Unlike curable illness, disability is something the patient will probably have all their lives, and so family members must find ways to adjust their lifestyles to avoid burnout. This article highlights the importance of focusing on your own wellbeing as a caregiver so that you're able to better take care of your loved one.
1. Learn, learn, learn
In order to take care of a disabled loved one properly, you should learn everything you can about the condition. Apart from using the internet as a resource (this has its upsides and downsides), invest in professional consultations with a specialist who will assess your own patient's needs and offer solid advice to care for them. Knowing what to expect can help lessen anxiety during care.
Getting a professionally trained caregiver allows you to have the disabled person in a familiar environment surrounded by loved ones—two things that can greatly improve their wellbeing. In addition, you'll be able to focus on taking care of the rest of your duties without risking your loved one's wellbeing. Be realistic about your limits so that you don't risk your health trying to do everything for everyone.
Do not feel guilty, as though you're 'passing off' your loved one to a 'stranger'; instead, consider that this person will be able to devote all of their time to the patient's needs and will give specialised assistance based on their disability, needs and preferences.
Even if getting professional disability care help isn't possible for you, turn to friends and family to chip in where you're overwhelmed. Make a detailed list of what your patient needs, and determine who can help with which aspects. Even young children can be part of it; they can spend time with the patient and participate in fun activities.
Invest in your mental and physical health
Caregiving will set off many emotions in you: fear, anxiety, guilt, resentment, grief and helplessness, among others. Acknowledging this, set up a support system for yourself and those around you. Support each other as a family, and also look for support groups near you for families with similar challenges.
Hiring a professional therapist to talk with periodically and/or connecting with organizations related to your loved one's disability/illness is also helpful. After all, your journey is a marathon, and you must replenish your strength however you can. In addition, take time to rest and relax as often as possible.