Adapting to New Roles

Perhaps you’ve recently found yourself thrust into the position of caring for an elderly loved one. If you’ve never had to do something like this before, it can seem more than just a little overwhelming, and it can definitely take an adjustment period. What can help is knowing that you are not the only one dealing with feelings of being overwhelmed or having to adjust to something new. Your loved one is likely feeling the same way or similar to how you are, and that can be of some comfort to both the caregiver and his or her charge.

While it can be tempting to just throw your hands in the air and give up at times, do not let yourself be discouraged. It will take a while before you can say you are fully adjusted to your new role as caregiver, and you will almost certainly have to shuffle things around in your personal life. Because of your new duties, you won’t always have the time you once had to do the things you once did. Oftentimes, people worry that they have to give up certain aspects of their personal life in order to properly care for a loved one. Sometimes, that might be the case. However, it could be that you may only need to cut down on some activities instead of giving something up altogether.

Another part of adapting to your new role as caregiver is learning when to call in help or reinforcements. As one person, you cannot necessarily provide every single aspect of your loved one’s care as they might need it. Part of getting used to your new role may be to realize that you are not Superman or Wonder Woman. You can’t do everything on your own, and there is no shame whatsoever in admitting this and asking for help whenever the need arises. Be wise about your own limitations. Yes, you may be able to push yourself to the limits for a time, but this may only lead to burnout and reduce your ability to help in the future. It’s best if you take care of yourself and get help when and how you need it. Having a friend or family member that  you can count on to assist in caring for the elder in your life, can be a huge, and oftentimes, necessary benefit.

Again, remember that this isn’t something you’re dealing with alone. Your loved one is also having to change the way that he or she has lived in the past. Until now they have had a great deal of independence. It can be scary for someone to admit that he or she is now unable to do things they once were able to do. You both have new roles to adapt to, and in time you will both become accustomed to them. You will be able to help your loved one do some of the things that they cannot do now, and your loved one will not have to worry about accomplishing all of the tasks and household chores that may need to be done. When you both get used to the new situation, you may find it to be more beneficial than both first thought. It may even lead to a deeper and stronger relationship for you both.