When it's time to ask for support as a caregiver, you'll be more likely to get help if you clearly identify what type of support you need and where you can get it. The three basic types of support needed by most caregivers are:
Emotional Support: This is needed to help you deal with your feelings, depression, isolation and the sense of being overwhelmed. In many cases, friends and family can provide you with the emotional support you need. Visits, chats on the phone, e-mails or a little time away to see a movie or go to a restaurant can go a long way to making you feel "normal," loved, cheered up and refreshed. Pets can even give you emotional support. They know when we're feeling down and need us to reassure them, which in turn makes us feel better. Other caregivers are also a great source of emotional support. Who knows better how you feel? However, sometimes you may need to seek professional help. Counselors, ministers and social workers understand more than you realize. They deal with people in your situation all the time and have coping skills they can teach you. Just the idea that it's going to be somebody's job to listen to your problems every week can help you make it through another day. If you need help, get it.
Informational Support: This involves getting the right information from healthcare professionals, insurance companies, outside caregivers or anyone who has information you can use to properly care for your loved one or streamline your responsibilities. The Internet is also a great source of information, but don't become obsessed with reading too much. Stick to reliable sources and use the Internet to help you formulate the best questions to ask healthcare professionals. If you show up at every doctor's appointment with a stack of papers you've printed out, you won't have a very productive visit. When you're worried about a problem, decide if the right information would help solve it. Then speak up and ask questions from the right source to relieve your fear and anxiety. This type of support can also come from the experiences of others who have either had the same medical problem as your loved one or who have been caregivers. Try to keep your emotions out of the situation when you're seeking information. Knowledge is power; so keep the information lines open.
Logistical (or Active) Support: This is the support you need to get through each day. If you don't get logistical support, you're going to burn out fast. Define exactly what you need — such as help with grocery shopping, meals, doctor's visits, yard work, etc. After a while, you'll realize what you need help with. Write down the things that are most difficult for you to get accomplished and look for the right person for the job. Then ask that person to help you with a specific task. One by one, you'll transfer the responsibilities that are overloading you. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you're all alone, even if you have no family, no friends and no finances. There's always help out there if you look hard enough. Check with healthcare professionals, social services and local faith-based organizations to see what help is available.
Journal Ideas: Getting Support
Identify your support needs under the correct category. Then, jot down your thoughts on a blank journal page. For example:
- Someone to talk to daily
- A day where I can do something for myself
- Counseling for my anger, grief, sadness, depression, etc.
- Time with my pets
My emotional needs today are:
- Is it normal for my loved one to cry a lot?
- How much exercise do I need to stay healthy?
- How can I get my loved one into rehab?
- How do I find financial assistance?
My informational needs today are:
- Where can I find someone to stay with my loved one at night?
- Where can I get meals brought in to my loved one?
- Who can help with cutting both my yard and my loved one's yard?
My logistical needs today are:
This content was last reviewed on 12/18/2014.