Stress Relief and Hospice Care: How it Can Help
If you are caring for a loved one in hospice in San Francisco and elsewhere, you know how taxing it can be on your emotional and physical well-being. Despite the fulfillment you get from caring for a spouse, child or aging parent, it can be extremely stressful to carry that burden with you day after day. Placing your loved one in hospice helps relieve some of that burden so that, for a little while each day at least, you can focus on yourself, your own family and your own health. Here’s how stress relief and hospice can help the caregiver, as well as some tips on how to find yourself again amidst the chaos of caring.
How Hospice Helps and the Challenges of Being a Caregiver
When someone you love is dying, you are suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver with little to no preparation or knowledge of what you can possibly expect throughout the process. Hospice team members are able to provide support to the caregiver by providing information, answering questions and offering a shoulder to lean on. In addition, they can give you and the rest of the family practical tips, advice, and strategies to help you all manage the burden of caregiving, says the Hospice Foundation of America. Studies have shown that many caregivers say their worry is relieved simply by knowing they weren’t alone during such a stressful time, knowing they could call on the hospice care team any time with a concern or question.
As a caregiver, you likely struggle with guilt on a daily basis. Are you giving enough of your time? Are you being patient enough, kind enough, helpful enough? Are you neglecting your own family because you’re with your dying loved one so much? It’s a never-ending juggling game of finding balance in a world into which you were suddenly thrown, and that you didn’t ask for. But still, you get up every day, do the best you can, and move on. No one can do it alone, and that’s why hospice care is so helpful.
Many believe caring for a dying loved one is a duty, calling, or perhaps even a privilege. Yes, it can be gratifying, but it’s never easy. It’s often difficult, thankless work that leaves you struggling with guilt, anger, sadness, and anxiety. As your loved one progresses and your responsibilities increase, you have less time to take care of yourself. What happens then? Your health declines, you don’t feel good, you may be losing weight or gaining it, your emotions can be all out of whack, and you start to feel the onset of exhaustion and burnout. Maybe you even become ill yourself.
Truth is, the strain of constant emotional, physical and financial challenges that many caregivers share can extend beyond the upfront cost of caring for a loved one, and result in job loss and social isolation. In turn, this makes caregiving a very lonely existence for many. The good news is, your loved one’s hospice care team doesn’t just consider the person in the bed as their patient: they consider the family caregivers as their patients as well.
Tips for Coping as a Caregiver
Use hospice as a stress reliever so you can learn to reconnect with yourself again. Here are some tips on how to achieve that.
1. Practice Self-Care
You need to find ways to care for yourself. You can do this by getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and getting enough exercise, which all factor into a sense of control and well-being. Plus, it helps you maintain your overall health. If you get sick or have a breakdown, you won’t be much use to your loved one who needs you right now.
2. Reduce Stress Level
You also need to take steps to reduce your stress level. Get regular massages, take walks around the block every day, take warm bubble baths, or just go for dinner and drinks with a close friend.
3. Accept Help
Accept help if family, friends or neighbors say they want to cook you a meal, watch after your small children, or grocery shop for you. Not only will this help you out, but it will also make them feel good knowing they could assist you in some meaningful way.
4. Reach Out
Make sure you are addressing your mental health too. Read self-help books, attend support groups, and go to counseling. These outlets will allow you to express your feelings, thoughts, and worries without being judged. A support group, in particular, can offer validation and encouragement, as well as problem-solving strategies for tough situations, suggests the Mayo Clinic. The point is to know you’re not facing this alone, which sustains hope.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
We are all about family here at Pathways. We are here to help our patients, of course, but also to provide compassion, advice and a listening ear to the families of our hospice patients. Contact us now to learn more at 888-978-1306.