Many of us struggle with finding balance in being a caregiver and achieving our life goals and dreams. It often becomes difficult to provide our loved ones with the care and support they need and us with fun and fulfillment. This can lead to a life that lacks joy and if not addressed can lead to feelings of depression. By reflecting on my own journey and that of friends I have learned a few coping mechanisms that can help navigate this life stage.

Ask For Help

My mother was very active in her community and church before my dad became ill with diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  As his condition got worse it resulted in her having to quit her job and abandon her outside activities to become his full-time caregiver. As time passed her life was consumed with his day-to-day needs and there was no time for her own enjoyment. She realized that in order to give my dad the care he required and keep herself sane she would need help. She reached out to some of her church members who were happy to stay with him and allow her some time for herself. Being a proud and independent woman this was hard for her to do. However, she found it to be a wonderful solution. And it gave her the opportunity to rest and refresh.

Break The Dream Into Smaller Pieces

One of my friend’s lifetime goals was to write a book but caregiving responsibilities for her mother who had Alzheimer’s were overwhelming. Initially, she would write for one hour every day but this became impossible. She found that breaking the goal into smaller pieces made it easier to achieve. She now sets a fifteen-minute time frame and writes a poem or an essay, which over time can become a chapter for a book. Now she has a manageable goal.

Modify The Dream

Another of my friends had dreamed of traveling around the world when she retired. But when retirement came she had to abandon her dream and take on the responsibility of caring for her husband who had cancer. After years of being angry and sad about her situation she eventually came up with other ways to fulfill her wanderlust. She began attending lectures about travel at her local community college. She joined a travel club and went on short trips with girlfriends. Not exactly how she thought she would see the world but it brings her joy and contentment.

It is crucial that caregivers take time for themselves. If you find that your dreams get crushed don’t give up instead look for other ways to achieve your vision.   Others have done it and so can you.