Stepping into the role of caregiver can be rewarding and also, at times, overwhelming. All too often, caregivers begin neglecting their own health when caring for the health of others. Being so focused on the care of someone else can be stressful by itself, but unavoidable changes in care often add to it. In addition, some caregivers start to feel out of control when needs change or they hit a bump in the road, further increasing their stress. This is why it is extremely important for caregivers to figure out what they need to maintain their own health and well-being while serving in this role and finding support through friends, family or community.
It is essential for caregivers to seek support—from family, friends and/or other individuals or families in the community also going through similar situations. It’s easy to focus so much on providing care that you forget yourself. Finding other caregivers who understand what you’re going through and can relate to your experiences can be a source of relief. It’s also important to find some time to rest and recharge outside of your role as caregiver. This can look different for each person, but taking some time to yourself can decrease the feeling of fatigue or burnout that many caregivers face.
Caregiving has to be a balancing act of taking care of your own needs as well as the person you are caring for. If you or someone you know that is currently serving as a caregiver are beginning to feel overwhelmed or like you need help, talk with your primary care physician or seek out support services at your local health system. Cone Health has an exceptional network of spirituality and support services offering care to individuals throughout the community who are struggling with the difficult responsibilities that often come with caregiving.
Jonathan Freeman, DMin, is the director of the Employee Assistance and Counseling Program for Cone Health. He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in pastoral psychotherapy from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Indiana. Freeman obtained his Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. Freeman performed his clinical pastoral education residency at Alamance Regional Medical Center.