Providing Elder Care in Illinois? The Court Finds You Guilty…
…but not of the crimes you think you committed.
If you’re providing elder care in Illinois for a loved one, you may be overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. Guilt about not spending enough time with your loved ones. Guilt of failing them if you’re considering part-time in-home care or a full-time skilled nursing facility. Guilt over losing your temper when your loved one with dementia forgot your name for the tenth time this morning.
No. Here’s what you’re more likely guilty of:
- Working too hard
- Neglecting your own emotional and physical health
- Judging yourself too harshly
Although incredibly rewarding, providing elder care for a beloved family member is one of the most difficult things you will ever do, and the role of caregiver often comes at the busiest stage of life. Caregivers often have full-time jobs in addition to caregiving, as well as children and spouses who need attention, too.
How do I know if I’m working too hard? First, it’s important to admit that you’re working too hard. Write down a quick estimate of the number of hours you’ve spent over the past week taking care of your loved one; working at your paying job if you have one; with your spouse/children; on recreational activities like reading, exercise, and watching TV; and sleeping. Now imagine this is someone else’s list. What would you tell that person? Is that person’s life balanced?
How do I know I’m neglecting my own emotional and physical health? Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and ask yourself: How does my body feel right now? When was the last time I exercised? The last time I took time to savor a healthy meal, instead of just shoveling food in my mouth in exhausted desperation? A night out with friends? A walk in the park? A movie?
It’s important to take care of yourself. In fact, taking care of yourself is a key part of providing care for others. You can’t give anything to anyone when you’re running on empty. You will be a better, more patient, more compassionate elder care provider if you feel refreshed and energized.
How do I know if I’m judging myself too harshly? It’s normal to judge your performance as a caregiver, but remember, it’s a job you weren’t necessarily trained to do. What expectations have you set that may have caused guilt? Are they realistic expectations? If so, then what will you do differently next time? If not, then let go of the guilt.
Now that you’ve admitted you’re working too hard, neglecting yourself, and judging yourself, how can you alleviate your feelings of guilt?
Take care of yourself. Schedule time to
- Take an exercise class
- Go for a walk
- Meet a friend for coffee or lunch
- Go to the movies or to a concert
- Attend your child’s sporting events
- Sit and do nothing
Get help. Asking for help can be difficult, but it can be the best thing for both yourself and the loved one for whom you’re providing care. You are not doing your loved one any favors if you’re exhausted and stressed out. There are many places where you can get help.
Online support groups. It’s incredibly reassuring just to hear someone else say: “I get it. I know just what you’re going through.” Start with these websites:
Respite care. It’s okay to seek professional Illinois elder care for your loved one. Home care agencies can provide care that can be scheduled for a few hours a week, full-time, or around the clock. Professional caregivers from Home & Hearth Caregivers can help your loved one with daily tasks including medication reminders and meal preparation, while freeing you to handle other responsibilities (like caring for yourself).
Contact Home & Hearth Caregivers at 800-349-0663 for more information about our elder care in Illinois. Our caring professionals are here to help you determine the level of support your loved one needs.