We all come to the role of caregiver in a variety of ways. Some of us are thrust into this role when someone we love has a medical crisis and needs us to care for them until they are better and can return to their former healthy status. Some of us start out by gradually taking on more responsibilities for an aging parent as they become less able to handle daily activities. And then there are those of us who have a family member or loved one who is dealing with a chronic condition or illness and who will always need some extra support. Regardless of how we come by our caregiver role, the goal is always the same. We’re trying to help our loved ones live as independently as possible and with the best quality of life as possible.
Being a caregiver is a very demanding and often stressful job. It takes a lot of physical, emotional, and mental energy and can lead to incredible fatigue, anxiety, illness, and ultimately depression and burnout. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are things you can do to become a more effective and successful caregiver without compromising your own health and well being.
Educate yourself. Take a crash course in your loved one’s illness or condition. Remember the old adage “Knowledge is Power”. This is one of the most important things a caregiver can do. The more you know and understand about what your loved one is dealing with, the more you can successfully handle any challenges or changes in their health. This includes keeping an open line of communication with their doctor or health care team.
Take care of yourself. If you are worn out and/or physically ill, you certainly can’t be much help to anyone else. Being a caregiver is demanding work so you need to eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, and get some exercise. Don’t give up a social life. The last thing you need is to become isolated. Know your limits and don’t try to do more than you can in any given day. Be realistic about what you’re trying to get done. Try to schedule some “me-time” to help you relax.
Ask for and accept help. Tap family and friends for any help they can give you no matter how incidental it may seem. If they can run some errands for you or cook a meal, it’ll be less on your plate for a change. Don’t try to do everything by yourself. The goal is to keep from being overwhelmed and feeling trapped. Consider using the services of an experienced home care agency, even if on an occasional basis. This would give you a well needed and deserved break and an opportunity to recharge your battery. Just remember to ask for help before you are overwhelmed. Do you have any tips on being a successful caregiver? What has helped you? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com