Are you a caregiver? If you are, you are playing a very important role in someone's life. It is possible that you are caring for an elderly parent, friend, or family member. It is also possible that their health is starting to deteriorate and they need help. Furthermore, you are helping with all the grocery shopping because they have difficulty walking. Perhaps, you are also preparing their meals because they can no longer cook for themselves. Whatever tasks you are doing as a caregiver, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed, depressed, resentful, angry, exhausted, and burnt out. These feelings are normal. As people are living longer, more and more loved ones will be involved in care taking at one point in their lives.

Being a caregiver can be a heavy burden if you do not get the required support. If you are a caretaker, you must consider the reality that both your mental and physical health may deteriorate. Care taking can take on a life of it's own. It may cause stress in many areas of your life. It may change the family dynamic, and it may disrupt the routine you have achieved in your household. It may also cause you to take time off work (perhaps causing financial challenges). One must consider all the time and energy this will require. The sad reality is that there may not be a happy ending for the caretaker. The best decisions can sometimes be hard to swallow.

As stress becomes a daily reality for you, frustration and anger may turn into "burnout". Moreover, you may end up resenting the person you are taking care of. The good news is there are healthy coping mechanisms that you can use to set limits for yourself.

First, education is power. Educate yourself as much as you can concerning your loved one's illness or need. Contact support groups in your area and connect with others who are living the same situation as yourself. Find out all the resources in your district concerning the specific needs of your loved one. There is a possibility that free help is available. Contact your local community care center for more information.

Second, be honest with yourself concerning your own limitations. Be sincere with the one you are caring for, their doctor, family members, and everyone else involved. Be clear with what you are able to contribute, and what you are not. Doing this eliminates confusion for all involved.

Third, accept how you feel. Don't live in denial. Care taking can cause resentment, anger, fear, guilt, or loss of control. These are just a few examples of the many emotions it may cause. Be honest with yourself. These feelings are all normal. Talk to someone you trust on how you are feeling. Talk to a friend you trust, or a therapist.

Once you have reached the point of burnout, being a caretaker is no longer a healthy option for you. Common warning signs of burnout include:

-Decreased levels of energy
-Catch colds easily and frequently
-Always tired, no matter how much sleep you get per night
-Your own needs are left neglected
-Your life revolves around care giving. You resent it, you feel angry, you feel irritable
-You have difficulty relaxing
-You feel impatient towards the person you are taking care of
-You feel overwhelmed, anxious, helpless, and hopeless

Don't lose hope because there is help available in the form of government services and home care agencies in your community. These may include adult day care centers, home health aids, "Meal on Wheels", respite care for caregivers, transportation services, and nursing care. The services can be found in the private and public sector. You can contact your local community care center, or call the local hospital and speak with social services. They will be able to provide you with contact phone numbers to find this help. The cost of these services is often based on a sliding scale, or a portion may be covered by an insurance policy. Some of these services may be free. If the person you are caring for is a war veteran, you should contact your local veterans affair department and find out what type of subsidies are available.

Furthermore, if you are a caregiver, it is important to seek emotional help. You can find emotional help from a trusted friend, support groups (such as the forum on my site, and therapists. By speaking with others, you will find out that you are not alone. You will learn valuable knowledge from others who are living the same situation. To find a community support group, check the yellow pages, ask your doctor or hospital, or call a local organization that deals with the health problems you would like to address. To find an Internet support group, visit the website of an organization dedicated to the problem or do a web search on the name of the problem.

Last, if you are a care giver, take good care of yourself. You can take care of yourself by engaging in activities that you enjoy. Pamper yourself, book a massage or another type of service that you find pleasurable. Eat healthy meals, exercise, and try to get around seven hours of sleep every night. Be sure to arrange a social support network, don't isolate yourself. Care taking can be a wonderful, rewarding journey for both you and your loved one if all the proper limits and support services are set up.

Author's Bio: 

Michele Bayno has ten years experience working as a social worker on a geriatric unit in a public hospital. Michele was educated at McGill University and received her BSW in the year 2000. Michele has substantial experience working with seniors and their families.