As people age, they often need help dealing with a myriad of health issues. From getting dressed to preparing meals, almost every part of the day can require some extra assistance. Often, family caregivers step up to provide this essential care. Out of affection for their parents, grandparents, or other loved ones, they devote their time and energy to providing care.
All this work can take an emotional and physical toll. Caregivers often have families of their own to take care of as well as professional responsibilities. They often struggle to find the time necessary to provide the care their elderly relatives deserve. Meanwhile, they have to deal with the emotional pain of watching a loved one lose their normal level of functioning. The entire situation can prove incredibly stressful.
Lots of caregivers of seniors try to help their elderly loved ones right in their own home. While it can be comforting to have the person nearby all the time, it also makes it even harder to cope. Caregiving becomes a full time job with few opportunities for taking a mental and physical break. Sometimes, the workload can seem too much to handle.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to recognize that you’re far from the only person facing these challenges. Being a caregiver is hard, and it’s even harder when the ailing senior is someone you love dearly. Luckily, those who have gone before you have reported on their experiences and can offer advice. You can use their wisdom to find peace of mind and improve your own situation. Here are ten tips for family caregivers to consider.
Give Yourself Breaks
Nobody can stay turned on all the time. If you’re constantly rushing from one obligation to the next, mental and physical burnout is the only possible outcome. You owe it to yourself to take a break and relax. Whether this involves a quick walk around the block or a weekend getaway, the important thing is that you step away completely from the source of your stress. You’re not a bad person for taking some time off. In fact, the brief respite will probably make you a better caregiver in the long run.
Accept Caregiving Help From Friends And Family Members
Being a caregiver is a lot of work. There’s no way you’ll ever be able to do it all on your own, especially if you’re balancing your caregiving duties with other obligations. If you’ve got a reliable network of friends and family, now is the time to take advantage of them. There’s no shame in asking a friend to bring your mother to a doctor’s appointment or come by and check on your aunt. They’ll understand, and they’ll probably be happy to do it. They’ve likely been noticing the stress you’re under, and they’ll be eager to give you some slack.
Taking care of your own life is hard enough, and it only becomes more difficult when you’re worrying about your caregiving duties as well. You’ll never be able to juggle all those appointments and medications without staying organized. That’s why calendars, notebooks, and spreadsheets are a caregiver’s best friends.
Make To-Do Lists
A simple pen and paper can help you keep track of your daily tasks. Every morning, take a moment to jot down what you have to do during the day or even use an app to keep track. A few of our favorites are Evernote and Todoist. Then, take advantage of spare moments to check items off the to-do list. This strategy will make you more efficient, making it more likely you’ll create some free time to relax. It also ensures you don’t’ forget to do anything important.
Take Advantage Of Technology
These days, apps and online programs can make it easier to stay organized as a caregiver. Calendars and alarms on your smartphone can remind you not to miss any pills or appointments, while a shared Google Drive allows a team of family caregivers to stay on the same page.
Look After Your Own Mental Health
Caring for an aging relative can put you under so much strain that your own mental health is at risk. Be vigilant in looking out for signs of anxiety or depression. Here’s another opportunity to use your smartphone apps. Something like Calm for a 10-minute meditation can be really beneficial. If any symptoms present themselves, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
You’ll only be an effective caregiver if you keep yourself healthy. This means maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and sleeping enough every night. While it’s easy to adopt a martyr-like attitude when caring for others, don’t forget that it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to stay healthy.
Be Proud Of Your Actions As A Family Caregiver
In the midst of such a challenging point in your life, it’s important to give yourself a pat on the back for all the heroic work you’re putting in. Not all family members go the extra mile, and you deserve credit for all you do.
Talk With Friends
Sometimes, the best way to deal with stress is by talking to others about what you’re going through. You probably have friends who find themselves in a similar situation. An hour or two talking about the challenges and joys of caregiving might make you feel a whole lot better.
Consider Professional Help
When the stress becomes too great to handle, don’t hesitate to get professional caregivers involved. There’s no shame in hiring full-time healthcare workers to do what they do best. RetireEase has a dedicated staff who know exactly how to best care for your aging relative. What’s more, than can provide care right in your own home. This solution allows your loved ones to stay in a comfortable, familiar setting while receiving the attention they need.
About RetireEASE Integrated Care
As the premier senior caregiver service in Columbia, SC, our caregivers are passionate about integrated care. We understand the importance of caring not just for people’s physical needs but for their mental and social needs as well.
We love helping older people continue to live full, active lives. You can learn more about our services here.
If you’re looking for high-quality, personalized senior home care in the greater Columbia, SC area, we’d love to talk. You can contact us here.