There is a quote by Emory Austin that says, “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” Those of us who are family caregivers know the importance of adhering to that simple adage. There are days when the task before us will stretch us far beyond our natural abilities and we will be required to power through anyway. It is during those times when we will need to call upon all of our resources to face the day because the majority of family caregivers do not get a day off and are required to meet the physical, emotional and social needs of a loved one each and every day. Many days will come and go when we will feel inadequate, defeated and hopeless. It is during those days when having a solid support system will be priceless. The people we surround ourselves with—our support system–will determine how well we function as a caregiver.
So, how do you build a strong support system that will help you become successful as a caregiver?
1. Everyone you invite into your life should make you a better person.
2. Stock your support system with people who have your back. When you win, they celebrate with you. They won’t pardon your mistakes, but they will remain loyal to you no matter what.
3. Surround yourself with people who speak the truth, even when it hurts. You need friends who practice tough love. They may not always encourage you in the nicest way, but they will always want your highest good.
4. Remove enablers from your inner circle. Enablers will tell you what you want to hear but you need people who will tell you what you need to hear.
5. Love yourself. Be your own best friend. Know your needs and go about taking care of yourself. Pursue your interests, cultivate hobbies and enjoy yourself.
By creating the right support system, we will be well on our way to becoming the best caregivers we can be.