Many families, friends and neighbors provide care to a senior they love. Some people do their neighbor's grocery shopping while they are doing their own. Other people live with their senior family member and provide care 24 hours a day. Being a caregiver is not an easy "job".
Most caregivers start out with small tasks that need to be done like grocery shopping for mom. While this seems like a simple thing to do for the person you love. The next thing you know is you are now preparing a menu for the week, making a grocery list, doing the shopping, unloading the groceries, cleaning out the fridge, taking out the trash - and the "list" goes on... How did this simple grocery shopping need go from a few extra minutes in the store to 3 hours of your week?
Seniors require more care as they age. That's easy to understand. So it's easy to see that a simple grocery list can go from a few extra minutes to a few hours over the course of a year or so, without you even realizing it is happening. It's not like mom is trying to take advantage of your generosity, she just needs more help and you love her and want to help.
Then the day or week comes when you have multiple items on your list of To Do's such as:
And then your mom calls and asks you to bring her to a doctor's appointment. Of course you say okay. However when you hang up, you wonder "Where am I going to fit that in this week?"
Most caregivers do not realize all of the things they do for their loved one. Usually when I ask them, they give me a short list maybe 3-5 items. Then I start asking if they need help with this and that, and suddenly that short list becomes a long list. The feeling of being overwhelmed just hits! It's kind of like when they say if you want to lose weight, write down everything that you eat. Then you realize, wow I do eat more than I thought. Same theory, write down all the things that do for your mom or dad or neighbor, and you will realize how much time it takes out of your day or week.
When I posed the title Full Time or Part Time for this blog entry - most people think of Full Time as 40 hours and in large blocks of time. However sit down and make a list of all the things you do throughout your day for your family and you will realize that you may be a Full Time caregiver!
In order to make your caregiver role work for you and your family, take a moment (I know you don't have many) and write down what you do and how much time it takes you each day or week. Then review the list. Is there anything on there someone else could help you with? Are you okay with the amount of time? Are you at your breaking point? Once you find out where you are, it is easier to move to the next step. Do you need help or are you okay?
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