The role that a family caregiver plays is one that is a round-the-clock, high-stress, time-consuming, and critically important one not just for the person being cared for, but also for other family members, friends, and more. With such a demanding (and in its own right, rewarding) role to play, caregivers have to make sure that they also take care of one other person – themselves! Here are some tips every care taker can use to ensure they’re in good shape mentally and physically to do their jobs:
1. Perhaps one of the most vital things you can do is to seek support from friends, family, and most importantly, other caregivers. It often can make a big difference in how you feel about your job if you are reminded through support that you are not alone!
2. Be sure to take breaks often. Anyone can tell you (not that you don’t already know) that caregiving is hard work in all respects, so you’ll want to take breaks often to rest and refresh your mind, body, and spirit.
3. If and when you find some down time, organize medical information so that it’s not only easy to find, but also up to date. The difference this could make in the event of an emergency could be of the utmost importance when it comes to anything from which elderly care products are used to what life-saving emergency medication is administered.
4. Please don’t forget about your own health! You need to be strong enough to be able to take care of your loved one, and you cannot do the best job for him or her if you are exhausted, non-focused, or ill. To take care of others, you must take care of yourself, always.
5. When someone offers you help, be wise enough to not only take them up on the offer, but also to suggest specific things they can do to help you. Oftentimes a person with the best of intentions will not know what exactly you need help with, so don’t hesitate to give them some direction.
6. Keep an open mind when it comes to suggestions, tips, and even new technologies or methods that can help you in your job – this can be anything from incorporating new medical supplies for elderly care into your regimen, searching for healthier food options for your loved one, and more.
7. Help your loved one ensure that any and all pertinent legal documents are in order. Living wills, power of attorney statements, notarized copies of documents, and final wills are just some examples of papers that should be in order.
8. Take a step back every so often and survey yourself – watch for signs of depression, anxiety, and other issues. Be honest with yourself and don’t delay seeking professional help when you need it. You won’t let your loved one down if you get help, but you won’t be able to care for him or her at your best if you don’t.
9. Learn how to discuss matters effectively, respectfully, and positively with doctors and any medical personnel that you may deal with as part of your loved one’s care. Make it a point to ask questions, remain calm when you are frustrated, and seek advice from those who can help you.
10. Finally, always keep in mind that it’s ok to hand tasks over to someone else for a bit; it’s ok to share the responsibility with someone else who might be able to share it. Don’t ever feel bad for knowing your limits – it’s one of the best things you can do to help your loved one.
Always make sure that you give yourself credit for doing such an arduous task each and every day. Being a caregiver is one of the most important and most stressful jobs on the planet, and you’re doing an amazing job. Remind yourself daily that you are doing the very best you can in one of the toughest roles you will ever have. Be well!