Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
- Steve Jobs
Are you a caregiver who’s afraid to approach family members to ask for help with the care and care demands of your loved one? Many times we caregivers come up with so many excuses why we don’t need help that we exhaust ourselves before we even approach someone for help. They will think I’m lazy. They will think I can’t handle my duties. They have so much to do already, I can’t add another task to their list. We would be here all day making the list of reasons why we shouldn’t ask anyone for help.
I don’t think the reason we refuse to ask for help is rooted on in the fear of inconveniencing them, it’s more about rejection. What if our good friend we have been friends with for over 10 years says no they can’t help out, will that change our relationship? What if my sister says no? That may cause me to resent her or worse conflict. Because mental health family caregivers face a good dose of conflict throughout the course of their journey supporting a loved one with mental illness, we don’t want another fight elsewhere. It’s just easier if we do it ourselves rather than risk another tug of war.
Not asking for help however places us at great risk for heart attack and stroke. According to studies family caregivers are at the greatest risk for heart trouble because of the amount of stress they endure on a daily basis. Not taking a break means more time spent in those stressful situations and ultimately winding up needing to be cared for and the loved one being left in the care of professional caregivers, friends, neighbors, or relatives; the very people the caregiver refused to ask for help from.
Have you asked yourself what is the reason behind your refusal to ask for help? Could it be out of fear of being rejected? Are you not sure of the best way to approach someone to ask for help?
Below are a list of ways you could do so:
Go to family, friends and neighbors and ask for help face to face.
Call family members one by one – Ask what they could help with or be willing to help with.
Ask in a letter – Write an email or use “Snail mail” (US Postal Service) to send out a request for help with caring for your loved one. In the letter request the help for what you need assistance with and ask the family member to initial next to the chore they are willing to take responsibility for, and to return to you.
Have a potluck – Invite family over and discuss ways they can be of assistance to you and your loved one.
Do a bake sale – Having a bake sale to raise money a professional caregiver, therapy costs, medical bills, or housing costs are ways to have people pitch in financially
Have a friend host a dinner – Have a friend host a dinner and ask your family, friends, and neighbors to help out with chores and other care demands.
There are various reasons we can use for not asking for help but none of them justify not asking for help. You are important to the success of your loved ones recovery journey and if you are burned out you cannot be of the greatest asset to them. Having a life outside of caregiving is very possible but requires a great deal of hard work to do so. It means:
Modifying parts of your care obligations to fit the schedule of those who want to help.
Accepting that other people do things differently than you do but their way can also be affective
Not expecting perfection from those that volunteer to help.
Letting go of the need to control every aspect of the care for your loved one.
Understanding the importance of staying committed to a schedule of self-care and self-care maintenance.
The results are not always immediate and you will have to get comfortable with a new way of doing things sometimes but stay the course and know that it is for the best.
If you or someone you know are struggling with the care and care demands of a loved one share our Caregiver training with them.
May today bless us with whatever makes us successful and may God bless us real good.
I have a really good caregiver training program going on right now called “Breaking The Time Bank”which focuses on your self care and the restructuring of your caregiving day that allows for the care of your loved one and a life outside of caregiving for you.
La Shawn is a Mental Health Survivor & Mental Health Family Caregiver. Although her passion has always been to help those in need, Homagi began 12 years ago as a non profit for homeless women and children, she chose to use her experience as a Mental Health Family Caregiver to guide other family caregivers on their journey as they assist their loved ones on theirs. She is known for her vibrant smile, easy going personality, positive attitude, and servant spirit. Always willing to stop and listen or share an experience with others, you feel heard and appreciated. Don't let those characteristics fool you into believing she's not an advocate who will stand up, march, and make the voice of the sometimes voiceless heard. A California native, now a Houstonian she loves the beach, hiking, crocheting and woodwork. She is married to her best friend and co-pilots their blended family of 5 children and 3 granddaughters.
BLOG: MENTAL HEALTH CAREGIVING 101: High Functioning Mental Illness - Supporting A Loved One With Semi-Managed Mental Health August 23, 2017 | La Sha...
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