If you're the primary caregiver of a loved one with declining mental health, it can be challenging to keep up with their needs. Sometimes this can lead to feelings of stress or burnout - or worse, feelings of neglect and guilt. This article will offer some advice and tips on how you can look after someone's declining mental health as a primary caregiver without necessarily having to know how best to handle their symptoms yourself.
The first and most obvious step is to listen. Whether it be to an illness or a change in behavior, the first thing you should do is give them your undivided attention. However, this should not be done from a defensive frame of mind. Taking cues from someone else will always be better than guessing what they might want by yourself. You can ask them questions about their feelings and health concerns, but try to avoid questioning them about their feelings unless they initiate conversation first. One idea that may help is to ask them how they feel at different times during the day such as before breakfast, during lunch and after dinner.
2. Be observant
The primary caregiver will have to notice that their loved one is changing in some way, even if it is more of a creeping change than a sudden one. There are lots of changes that might indicate someone is undergoing mental illness; these include sleeping and eating habits, behavior towards family members and friends, changes in behavior towards their home or place of work and their overall attitude towards life.
3. Familiarize yourself with the best treatment options for the particular condition
There may be hundreds of different symptoms associated with conditions like stress, anxiety and depression; this may mean you want to make sure you know what they all are before looking after someone's declining mental health as a primary caregiver. The best treatment options for these conditions are usually medications, counseling and other forms of support such as better sleeping habits or exercise.
4. Think about what is contributing to their condition
There are many things that can contribute to someone's state of mind. Some of the additional factors might include their work, finances, relationship with family members and so on. However, this is only a short-term explanation as the primary caregiver will have to understand all of the circumstances in their loved one's life at some point in order to properly treat them.
5. Talk to them
Talk to your loved one. It is best to talk openly and completely about the way they are feeling and telling them that you understand how they must be feeling. Some people may just want a sympathetic ear, while others may want specifics, so it is important to make sure that you can tell the difference between the two. Encourage them in ways they would find useful such as taking up a hobby or going on a trip away from where they live with other family members or friends.
6. Know when to seek professional help
Sometimes people who are suffering from mental illness may not be aware of it themselves, but may know very well what will benefit them rather than themselves. Sometimes, the best thing to ask someone is what they would like to do; this might include seeing a professional for help or asking them not to say too much about the matter.
7. Talk to someone about their mental health
Mental illness can be a very tricky disease, best taken care of by someone who has had experience dealing with it in their own life. The most important thing you can do if you are unsure of how to look after your loved one when they are feeling poorly is to talk it out with a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes they may just want some sage advice, while other times they may not be ready to talk about their depression and anxiety yet.
8. Be normal
Lastly, try to get back to a normal routine as much as possible. This will keep everyone on their toes and in an upbeat mood. With a little work, you can probably carry on with the business of your life despite the new and difficult situation you are facing.
In conclusion, looking after someone's declining mental health as a primary caregiver is not easy but it is doable. Most people will do everything in their power for the sake of their loved ones and others, but if you want to take on this responsibility then remember that there are a lot of things you can do to help. All you have to do is listen, be observant and talk about the changes that are happening in your loved one.