Caregiving can be a difficult experience for both the person you are caring for and yourself. Emotions such as fear, anger, resentment and guilt can interfere with your ability to provide quality care for your loved one.
It’s important to ask for help when you need it. This will allow you to focus on your health and well-being, benefiting both of you.
Create a Routine
Caregiving is a demanding job that can often result in stress. To help alleviate some of that stress, creating a routine for your loved one’s daily needs is important. This can include a meal schedule, medication reminders, and physical activity. By creating a routine, you can feel confident your loved one has all their basic needs met.
In addition, it’s helpful to create a plan for the long term. This includes figuring out what will happen if your loved one’s health declines or an accident occurs. By preparing for the what-ifs, you can reduce your anxiety while giving yourself peace of mind.
Even the most disciplined caregiver will run into a day when their routine is interrupted. It’s important to remember that this is to be expected and adjust accordingly. It’s also a good idea to incorporate flexibility into the schedule, especially regarding holidays or doctor’s appointments.
It’s also a good idea to try and incorporate exercise into your loved one’s daily routine. This can include things like walking, seated yoga, or swimming. Staying active can improve balance, strength, energy, sleep, mood, and concentration. In addition to keeping up with your physical fitness, eating a well-balanced diet and drinking plenty of water is important.
Find a Support System
Many caregivers are reluctant to ask for help because they feel it’s a burden or that they’re “burdening others.” But in reality, asking for and receiving help can alleviate stress. When a loved one is ill, it’s important to find a support system providing care for loved ones so that you can take time for yourself. This may include family members, friends or church-goers who can run errands or visit your loved one. It’s also a good idea to seek professional counseling.
Please list people who could help, and consider what you need from them. For example, you might need someone to drive your loved one to doctor’s appointments or the grocery store. You might also need someone to help you pay bills, answer the phone or fill out insurance papers. A support system will give you peace of mind that someone is always available to help you when needed.
Remember the advice you’re given on airplanes: Put on your oxygen mask before helping others. It’s not just about ensuring your health, but it will also help you provide better care for your loved one. When you’re stressed and anxious, it can affect your mental and physical well-being as well. Take regular breaks from your responsibilities and spend time with others.
Keep an Eye on Their Health
The demands of caregiving can take a toll on even the most resilient person. To ensure your loved one’s safety and well-being, consider seeking help for tasks beyond your abilities.
Rather than taking on your loved one’s needs, ask for assistance from family members, friends, neighbors or local aging and disability resource centers. Identify which responsibilities can be delegated, and consider setting up home health services like nursing care or physical, occupational or speech therapy.
As part of your loved one’s ongoing healthcare, keep a close eye on their health and nutrition. Monitor for changes in mood or appetite, and address nutritional needs by ensuring they have a well-balanced diet and enough fluids. Look into community arts programs for seniors, or encourage them to visit with friends or join a support group to combat feelings of isolation.
You should also discuss your loved one’s wishes with their physician and set up advance directives, such as a living will or power of attorney, to provide direction if they become incapacitated.
Having legal documents in place means they can receive the care they need, whether a temporary hospital stay or an extended nursing home stay. They may also qualify for Medicare home health services, which cover part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care and physical, occupational and speech therapy as needed.
Take Time for Yourself
Caregivers can often become so absorbed in their loved one’s care that they neglect their needs. However, they must care for themselves to continue providing the best possible care. If they don’t, their health will suffer, and they may feel burnt out or frustrated.
Make sure you can spend time with friends and enjoy hobbies that please you. Trying to get enough sleep would be beneficial to keep healthy and awake. Avoid using alcohol or drugs as a stress reliever since they can harm your health and make it more difficult to care for someone else.
To process their emotions and comprehend how their role affects their lives, many caregivers find professional counseling helpful. A counselor can also impart stress-reduction techniques to the client, such as regular exercise, a good diet, and participation in social and family activities.
Finally, it’s important to ask for help from others when you need it. Many people will be happy to lend a helping hand, and you should never feel guilty about it. For example, if you need a break from errands or housekeeping duties, let your friends and family know they can stop by with a casserole or some groceries.