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Information about the author of this post.
tlwe223's picture Terri Weber, MSW, CSW
Elder Care Specialist
College or Department
Work-Life
Phone Number
(859) 218-0457
Email Address
terri.weber@uky.edu

Caregiving, in some capacity, is in all our futures. Rosalynn Carter said it best.

There are only four kinds of people in the world:
Those who have been caregivers
Those who are currently caregivers
Those who will be caregivers
Those who will need caregivers
 

At this moment, approximately 41.8 million of us in the United States are providing unpaid care to someone over the age of 50. It’s a tough job that can affect our physical, mental and emotional health, as well as our professional goals. We find ourselves in constant conflict between our caregiving responsibilities and our job responsibilities. We struggle to find a balance between the needs of our loved ones, our work, our family and ourselves. It takes effort to find a balance. And it takes effort to maintain that balance. But there are ways to succeed.

What is resiliency?
We all handle stress differently. Some people can handle emotionally charged situations better than others. This is a form of resiliency, which simply means the ability to withstand, recover from and grow in the face of adversity. The good news is emotional resiliency can be learned and strengthened; it is not something we have to live without.

Maintaining emotional resiliency
How can we maintain emotional resiliency and build up our emotional strength to keep us balanced in our many responsibilities?

  1. Accept your emotions - the good, the bad and the ugly. Some days it’s easy to be patient; other days your patience is worn thin. Accept this; it’s part of being human. Think things through before responding. Being able to identify what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it keeps you one step ahead.
  2. Be realistic; accept your situation. Our first response to a difficult situation is to just wish it away. Instead of detaching ourselves, we need to act. Some things cannot be changed and can only be endured in the best possible way. As the saying goes, the only way to get through it, is to go through it. No matter the difficulties or disappointments, you need to keep moving forward, one step ahead of the other. 
  3. Build a team with your family and your friends and keep communications open. Accepting help and support from those who care about you strengthens your resilience. Surrounding yourself with those who you trust and respect and with whom you can share your needs, frustrations and sadness will help you feel connected.
  4. Be open to self-discovery. Learn from how you deal with challenging caregiving situations. Caregivers who experience frustrations and hardships in caregiving often find they have a greater sense of strength, an increased sense of self-worth and a greater appreciation for life.
  5. Take care of yourself; caregiving is an on-going, conscious process. You need to be at your best when caring for someone else. Pay attention to your own physical and emotional needs. Being able to recognize when you are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted or resentful is not only important to you, but also to the person you are caring for. Know when it is time to take a break and reach out to others.

Our UK mental health therapists can help. Employees with a full-time equivalency (FTE) or 0.5 or greater are eligible for five free sessions per fiscal year, as are UK retirees, sponsored dependents and spouses.

UK HR Elder Care can provide support, guidance and resources to help you navigate your caregiving journey.

Believe in yourself and your abilities to handle your caregiving situation. You are stronger and more capable than you think. Caregiving can be rewarding but can also be emotionally and physically exhausting with the constant demands on your time and energy. Take care of yourself so you can take care of the person you love.
 
Stay well, stay connected,

Terri