Setting Limits Is The Key

Realizing the added pressure of being a full-time caregiver is not the only challenged faced by many. In many cases, it is the stress of caring for a loved one, all while maintaining a job and supporting a family. It is at this moment where setting limits and making choices becomes most important. The key step is learning how to say “no,” yet maintaining a strong bond with your care recipient. Taking a step back and seeing life as an equal distribution of give-and-take between family and caregiving, often yields a myriad of benefits and positive change. These benefits include:

  • Setting limits can reward the caregiver and the care recipient. The loved one learns some independence, while the caregiver gets a break and stays away from “burnout.”

  • Taking a step back and saying “no” at times can be beneficial to your health. Caregivers tend to be at high risk for illness and realizing that you cannot do everything allows you the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. 

  • By allowing other family members to step in at times to assist you, you gain the freedom and momentary break that can help in refocusing your attention to the care recipient.

Juggling a family, a job, and being a caregiver is difficulty, and that is why it is vital for your health, well-being, and familial bonds that you set a standard to follow early. Setting limits does not mean you are being selfish or avoiding responsibility, rather it allows you the opportunity to continue to provide the quality care you would hope to give. Here are some other helpful hints as you go about setting limits in your daily life:

  • Decide early on what you can and cannot do, take into account your workload, family needs, and personal life and remain steadfast when your plan is challenged or questioned.

  • Set limits from the start of your caregiving role so you do not surprise your loved one when you suddenly decide to change something or say “no.”

  • Maintain a quality relationship with your loved one and explain to them your feelings on a given situation and why setting limits can work for the both of you.

  • Do not let emotions like anger, guilt or anxiety take you away from affect how you feel about setting limits. Emotions such as these have no place in doing what needs to be done to survive and feel good.

  • Do not feel as though you are anything less than a courageous person if you say “no” and appear tough at times. Your loved one must realize that you have your life to think about also.

  • Talk with other family members and friends and have them involved in caregiving. This does not mean you are avoiding your responsibility, rather you are allowing yourself some flexibility and giving yourself a welcomed break occasionally.

  • If you struggle in setting limits and saying “no,” you may need to talk with a therapist who can relieve your fragile emotions and refocus your intent.

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