When taking care of a patient or loved one, a caregiver has to change their schedule to accommodate the tasks of caring. This change may affect the caregiver’s free time and they might have to learn to say “no” more than they would like. Sticking to the routine is important, but so are the needs of the caregiver. For example, going to the movies may interfere with the caring schedule. However, caregiving plans, prioritizing tasks, and external support can help both the patient and the caregiver.
Determining one’s limits by making a list of important tasks can make saying “no” easier. Try asking a friend or family member to help with some of the most frustrating and time consuming tasks. If the friend or family member can’t help, there are public and private organizations that can for little to no cost. Many churches and synagogs have their own volunteer networks that can do minimal work for free.
There may be tasks that can’t be avoided and you have to do them yourself, but it will be more relieving knowing that some of the other tasks were taken care of. If you’re going to ask others for help, make sure that you are direct with your statement. Avoiding the main reason, or trying to make something sound better, will only add to frustration and most likely end up with your friend or family member not understanding the message. Communication is key!
Sometimes as a caregiver, your outside-of-care giving plans do not work out exactly as planned. People have errands, and not everyone has the time to cook a nice meal for the family. As a caregiver, try and think of creative solutions to your problems that fit with your schedule and everyone else’s schedule. Even though it may sound hard, staying creative will keep others interested and you’ll have a solution to your problem. For example, if there’s no one to cook the meal, suggest a potluck dinner, or go to a dessert-only dinner, that way people aren’t worried with having to cook and still have time to do what they wanted to do beforehand.
Caregivers should remember sometimes things don’t work out as planned. And when that happens, do not lose all confidence and let it affect your emotional and/or physical health.The best option is to let it go and move on. This will offer a better outcome for the caregiver and the patient.
It’s easier to say no with the help of a support group. The people in the group have been in similar situations and are willing to help you become an assertive and confident caregiver. With help, you will be able to get time to relax and wind down. Plan your social-time around your schedule and around the schedule of who is helping you. In your free time, go read a book, take a walk, etc. Doing this may leave you happy and help relieve stress. This way, when you return to the patient, you’ll be happy and refreshed.
Being a caretaker is a hard and stressful job. But with the help and support of others, you will be able to fine-tune your schedule to something that allows you to ensure the care of the patient AND go out and enjoy yourself.