Tips to Help Navigate Family Caregiver Dread
Updated: May 17
What are your first thoughts as soon as you wake up each morning? Are you looking forward to what your day holds, or would you like to crawl back beneath the covers and stay there? If you are feeling more dread than delight as you consider your caregiving responsibilities for the day, you are not alone.
Distinctly different from anxiety, depression, or even burnout, caregiver dread is an exhausted, heavy feeling of responsibility. It stems from feelings of over-commitment and the desire to break free from obligations. While it’s possible to push through and carry out required tasks regardless of these feelings, there are ways to conquer them instead – and restore the joy that comes from making life better for someone you love. To begin with, try these techniques:
Let go of the guilt. Meeting the caregiving needs of a loved one can feel mundane, unimpactful, and simply downright hard. It requires selflessness, which can feel burdening. Yet dreading the daily tasks you are obligated to do by no means reflects the way you feel towards your senior loved one. Acknowledge to yourself that your role is not easy, and that it’s okay to wish you could be doing something else.
Deliberately search for joy. The tiny pleasures each day holds can be diminished by the difficulties. Make the effort every morning to find five little things that make you smile. Keep a diary of each day’s finds and refer back to it at the end of each week. Engage all your senses while you search for the day’s joys: the smell of freshly baked cookies; the beauty of the sunrise; the sound of your kitten purring; the invigorating feeling of a hot shower.
Set boundaries. Schedule time each day to devote to pursuits that you enjoy independent of the senior in your care. Plan and look forward to this time when your caregiving tasks start to weigh you down. An established and trusted care partner is paramount to ensure that nothing interferes with the important time of taking care of yourself.
Remind yourself that the work you’re doing in taking care of a senior loved one is vitally important. Yet also keep in mind that no one can do it all, and in order to provide the best care for your loved one as well as for yourself, regular breaks from care tasks are crucial.
Connect with The Care Company, an accredited home care agency serving the greater Toronto area, at (416) 422-2273 to schedule regular respite care services and release the stress of caregiving dread. We are here for as much or as little assistance as you need to help you enjoy quality time with a loved one and to rediscover joy in your own life as well.