Being the primary caregiver for a loved one can present many challenges. From daily care tasks to doctors’ appointments and the unexpected challenges of things like sudden trips to the hospital. As we enter our 25th anniversary of caregiving services, we have composed a list of tips that we hope can help those on their caregiving journey.
Tip #1: Practice Self Care
The caregiving journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Be sure to keep up to date on your immunizations, screening, and check-ups. Monitor how much sleep you are getting and shoot for 7-8 hours every night. Maintain a healthy and nutrient-rich diet. Engage in daily exercise and activities to ward off stress and improve your overall mood and attitude.
Tip #2: Ask Questions
Knowledge is power! Seek out information about your loved one’s condition from their doctor and even a second opinion if you feel the need. Reach out to local community organizations that offer support groups and additional resources that can help provide support and resources.
Tip #3: Connect with Others
Connect and be honest with others that may be going through the same journey. Ask for help and be ready to ask for specific assistance. Making sure that you are communicating effectively and with mutual respect will allow everyone to work as a team to benefit your loved one.
Tip #4: Receive with Grace
You are not required to go on this caregiving journey alone so accept help when it is offered. It can be empowering to accept help from others! By letting others help out, it allows you time to do things you enjoy that help sustain you. Great examples of resources can include friends, neighbors, and church or other spiritual organizations. Others know that no one can love your loved one as much as you do but sometimes someone else may be able to provide care to allow you a break so that you can refresh your mind and return with a more loving spirit.
Tip #5: Nurture Your Soul
Your faith and spirituality can empower us and guide us through difficult times. Take time to nurture that by having a designated time for quiet reflection, attending religious or spiritual services, engaging in prayer, and/or meditating.
Tip #6: Allow Your Loved One Independence
Allow your loved one to participate and be as independent as possible in tasks and activities. This allows them to maintain some control over their life when it can feel more and more that that control is slipping away.
Tip #7: Believe in the Power of Laughter
Laughter is a simple medicine! Laughter can ease tension and stress and allow you to get rid of negative emotions and feelings. Caring for a loved one can be difficult and learning to laugh at some of the obstacles we face can help ease the pressure. Seek out ways to lighten up your day by watching funny movies, reading comics, telling jokes, etc. Allow silliness into your and your loved one’s day!
Tip #8: Learn to Let Go
Recognize that some situations and outcomes are out of our control. You can be the best caregiver and support for your loved one you cannot slow or alter their disease. While it can be easy to become overwhelmed, don’t try to tackle everything all at once. Prioritize your list of things to do and accomplish and check them off one by one.
Tip #9: Plan Ahead
Tackle discussions about legal and financial issues with your family as soon as possible. It is important to have a plan in place for your loved one’s continued care should they need it. Planning ahead, allows everyone’s wishes to be known and relieves others of the burden of trying to guess what the person would want to be done in certain situations.
Tip #10: Advocate
Becoming a caregiver can make you quickly aware of resources that are and are not available to you. Joining support groups can give you an opportunity to share the information you learn, gather information about services and support in your area, and lend your voice as a strong advocate for your loved one. Become active with community and state leaders and legislators to keep them informed as well.