Caregiver Kindness - Its Time To Take Care Of You

Being a Caregiver can creep up on you. It usually starts with simple things; running errands, taking someone to doctor’s appointments and monitoring their medications. As time goes on you find yourself doing more and more and eventually spending more time on someone else’s needs than your own. That’s when most people start to realize they are indeed a Caregiver. It is important to realize that fact early on and give yourself that title; otherwise, you won’t know how or where to look for resources to help you.

Whether you are a full-time Caregiver or a part-time Caregiver who is also juggling a family and career, taking care of yourself can often feel like just one more thing to do. Unfortunately, most caregivers don’t realize that is one of the most important jobs they need to attend to. Depression is the most common emotion among long-term caregivers and not taking care of YOU can heighten and accelerate its severity.

Caregiving often becomes the caregivers world so make sure you take breaks to remember the world outside your duties. Take advantage of someone’s offer to sit with your loved one for an hour or two so you can have lunch with a friend, read a book, or take a nap. Two hours out of the endless hours a Caregiver puts in may not seem like much but these breaks to care for yourself are a necessary step in caring for others. You are only human and, as such, need to remember the following:

• You cannot be perfect; and no one should expect you to be

• You have the right to all your emotions; it is OK to get upset, frustrated and sad at times

• You have the right to say “no” to things you cannot do

• You can (and SHOULD) ask for help

• Accept the help that is offered; it may not be perfect but little things can make a big difference in terms of your stress level

Also, don’t underestimate the power of a few hours. When you are overwhelmed by all the things you have to do, the offer of a few hours might not sound like much but it is enough time for you to trade making dinner into going out to dinner or swap helping someone bathe for treating yourself to a relaxing massage. Being a Caregiver can feel like a thankless job so remember to take the gifts that are given.

Being in a rural area, there are not infinite resources and solutions for someone needing constant care but programs like the Richland County Commission on Aging’s Respite Program can help you find a few hours each week to focus on nothing but you. The RCCOA can help the caregivers of qualified individuals (age 60 and over) obtain respite service for up to two hours each week or eight hours per month so they can do the things they thought they had given up when they became a Caregiver. The program also offers up to three overnight stays per year so the Caregiver can take a mini-vacation or attend an out-of-town event.

The goal of the program is to give you, the Caregiver, time to focus on yourself. The provided respite care is tailored to the needs of each individual; it can be as simple as just providing a companion for your loved one or as complex as providing someone who is capable of helping with meals, bathing and housework.

Funding for the Respite Care Program is limited and applications are scored based on the greatest need. If the RCCOA is not able to immediately approve your application, it will be kept on file for up to one year so you can be considered for the next available opening. Applications for the Respite Care Program can be found at


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