Caregiver triangle tangle bounces us between love, exhaustion and dread.
Love fuels the tasks. Long term caregiving exhaustion wraps around even the most determined caregiver. And dread of an inevitable outcome creeps into our projected thoughts.
As long term caregivers, we experience stages and cycles.
Caregiver triangle tangle-love,exhaustion,dread
All triangles contain three elements. And this one is no exception.
While the triangle represents separate emotional elements, we move from one point to another throughout our caregiving process. As a result, we may consistently feel love but still be exhausted from caregiving demands.
Our love drops us into the caregiving game. And keeps us there.
Eventually, most long term caregivers slip into a weariness and exhaustion. And the love that started it all mutes our feelings of being worn out.
Rather than admit we are exhausted, we push ourselves past a healthy boundary. These are our parents or loved ones after all!
While caregiving is noble and necessary, most caregivers fail to recognize what it may cost them. Until the personal cost is so high that our own well being is long “past due”.
And then, the insidious dread creeps in. Dread can represent fear,apprehension and reluctance. Our “cared for” person may or will die. We may suffer diminished health from providing care.
Or…..we may dread that we will lose too much of our own life. We may never get to take that dream vacation or reclaim the career and lifestyle prior to our caregiving days.
We complicate our lives when we provide care for our parents or loved ones. And the future predicts that the crisis in caregiving is rapidly emerging.
http://newsobserver.com, in a February 16, 2018 article, predicts that the majority of baby boomers will experience some level of caregiver status . This may involve support for a spouse, a parent or a disabled child. It may also forecast a personal need for assistance.
Stress is a familiar companion to caregivers. Whether cared for at home or in a facility, the “cared for” person will need consistent support. And …in giving to others, the caregivers often forego their own healthy boundaries.
Consequently, we find ourselves bouncing between love of the tasks and resentment for having to perform them. AND….resentment keeps us trapped on the bridge to other unproductive emotions and thoughts.
Just as we untangle knots in a fishing line or power cords, untangling ourselves from caregiving woes is difficult.
The tangle of tasks,emotions and exhaustion develops over time. And…it is through time and dedicated focus that we untangle the caregiver triangle – one tangle at a time.
Here are a few suggestions to begin your untangling:
- Change your daily routine– even in a minor way. Take the long way home from work, change where you normally sit to read or watch TV. Brush you teeth with your non-dominant hand. The point is : when you shift your minor routine you shift your perspective.
- Schedule NON- negotiable time for yourself every day. This can be as little as 15 minutes but needs to be just for you – a walk, a latte with a friend, reading a book for pleasure. No phone calls, interruptions or skipping allowed!
- Say NO- just that- to something or someone. This is usually identified as something you thing you “should” do. This NO opens up space for you. AND….NO is a complete sentence. It does not require an explanation.
- Write yourself a thank you note- from yourself or even your “cared for”. This can be imaginary but it must be honest. APPRECIATE what you do! Thank yourself for taking better care of yourself. Catch yourself making progress!
- Acknowledge 3 things every day about caregiving: it is NOT fair, it is difficult and demanding, YOU are the only person who can improve your situation (even a tiny bit at a time).
You will survive the demands of caregiving. You will learn so many things about yourself and your resiliency. Choose your thoughts wisely. As you think, you will feel.
Choose to feel as good about this as you can make it.
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