If you are caregiving for someone you love you may feel as though your life before caregiving is just a distant memory and that your caregiver role is taking all of your time and energy. While you’re in the midst of it all, you may feel as though this part of your life will never end. But caregiving is a time-limited role, as hard as that can be to think about.
Because it can feel all-consuming, people often feel like a large void has opened up when their days are no longer filled with the concerns and activity of caregiving. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead now so that the impact of this change will feel more manageable.
Taking some time now to think about what you would like to do after caregiving does not mean you are being disloyal, that you wish your loved one ill or that you are somehow hastening the end of their life. The truth is, your planning ahead will likely put your current role into perspective at the same time as it will help you transition into the next phase of your life in a more gentle way.
You may have spent a great deal of your time as a caregiver home-bound. This may have had a significant social, emotional and possibly financial impact on your life. Isolation is frequently one of the of by products caregiving and if you have been unable to nurture your friendships and social network the way you used to, its not too late. You can start planning for the future by arranging for some time with friends and family now. Ask for some respite time or help from family or friends so you can get out to church again or enjoy some of the more social activities you used to like to take part in. If you re-seed your friendship garden now, it will be in full bloom when you really need it.
If you had to reduce your hours at work or to leave your job altogether to focus on caregiving, you may also find yourself set back financially and needing to seek employment now. Getting back into the work force after a prolonged time out may feel very challenging. Begin reconnecting with colleagues and others in your field. Consider the ways you may have added new skills to your previous skills in your role as caregiver.
The list may surprise you and may even make you marketable in ways you had never previously imagined. As a result, you may even wish to begin retraining in a role that you have discovered along your caregiver journey.
When you think about life post-caregiving make sure that you plan in some time to rest, too.
Caregiving has likely taken a toll on you emotionally and physically and you may need to take a break to find your balance and to regroup. Resting and regrouping can help you have the energy and perspective you need to move into the next phase of your life. It can be a wonderful time to recognize the many ways you have grown and changed through the experience of caregiving and carry all of this forward with you.
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