Most people do not feel ready when it becomes time to take care of a loved one who is seriously ill. One of the most frustrating aspects of this situation is that it can be difficult to find answers to your most pressing questions.
The Importance Of Seeking Caregiving Information
It is important to seek out information on caregiving to better provide for your loved one’s comfort. No matter how much you learn, however, caregiving may still leave you feeling overwhelmed, or that you are not up to the task of providing for the needs of your friend or loved one.
These feelings may often stem from neglecting your own needs as a human being while caring for a loved one. The following tips will help to inform you of what you can expect in the role as caregiver. You may think that you’re being selfish by focusing on your own needs, but this is not the case. It is essential that you take care of your own physical and mental health even while you attend to your loved one’s needs.
Being a Caregiver Can be Stressful
Experiencing a certain amount of stress is normal when you are a caregiver. You should not be surprised or alarmed when you find your responsibilities stressful at times.
Seek Additional Help
Don’t make the mistake of trying to do everything yourself. Even if you are the primary caregiver, you should still enlist help when possible. Always be open to accepting assistance when you need a break or require someone else’s expertise.
Let People Know Your Needs
Don’t be afraid to let people know that you have certain needs at this time. The following are some ways to let others know you need help:
Be open with your employer and explain your needs. See if it’s possible to have a flexible work schedule so that you can fulfill your duties as caregiver. In some cases, it may be possible to telecommute at least part of the time. If you work for a larger company, there may even be programs or resources in place to help people in your situation.
Enlist Children’s Help
Don’t be afraid to request that older children living at home help out with caregiving tasks. Being of service in this way actually helps young people develop empathy, maturity, and self-confidence.
Ask Friends and Neighbors for Help
Discuss your needs with family, friends, and neighbors. You never know what kind of help people may be able to provide. This may include help with shopping, transportation, chores, or just spending time with the person in care.
Make a List
To clarify your needs, it’s useful to make a list. This may include everyday tasks such as cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, cooking, shopping and doing laundry. Having a list handy is useful so that when people ask how they can help, you can reply with a specific request.
How to Stay Strong and Focused as a Caregiver
Make sure that you take time for yourself every day. Do things that are just for you and not related to your responsibilities. Even a few minutes of time for yourself can make a big difference.
Get some exercise every day. This is not only good for you physically, but also helps you increase your energy, let go of stress and feel better emotionally.
Do your best to eat well. A healthy diet is another habit that helps you stay focused and energetic. If you are having trouble finding time to shop and cook, try to enlist help in this area. People who are doing this for your loved one may be able to do so for you as well.
Take advantage of some of the resources that are available for caregivers. This includes newsletters, support groups and online resources. Your doctor or local hospice can refer you to such resources.
It’s natural for caregivers to feel a wide range of emotions, which may include depression, anger, resentment, loneliness, and frustration. If you are experiencing such feelings, you may want to seek professional help. Ask your doctor, hospice, or local mental health center for advice in this area.
The Need for Caregiver Respite
Respite means taking a break from your role as caregiver. This may involve a variety of solutions, such as a private duty nurse, a temporary stay in a nursing home for your loved one, hiring a home health companion or aide, or arranging for medical day care for your loved one.
There can be many reasons why a caregiver wants or needs respite, including:
- Time off to see a movie, attend a social event or a religious service.
- An appointment with the doctor or dentist.
- Relaxing at a hair or spa treatment.
- Taking a vacation.
- Visiting with family or friends out of the area.
Remember that when you are a caregiver, you must learn to maintain a balance between your responsibilities and the need to care for yourself.