Here are 5 simple tips to become a master of caregiving:
1. Plan ahead for safety
A number one concern for both caregivers and care receivers is the potential for trips and falls, no matter the time of year. A fall for an elderly loved one can have a life changing impact, so in order to avoid unnecessary accidents plan for safety:
- Remove loose scatter rugs around the home, install handrails in passageways, bathrooms and their bedroom.
- Ensure your elderly loved one has proper shoes to wear when leaving the house- especially in winter time e.g. snow boots, slip-proof, well-fitted shoes.
- Ensure their home or yours (if an elderly loved one lives with you) is adequately heated and cooled at relevant times of the year in order to avoid illness or heat exhaustion.
- If an elderly care receiver still drives, ensure their car is in tip-top shape, as well as their eye sight, co-ordination and reflexes.
2. Assess emotional well-being
Caring for an elderly loved one is full on. It can take its toll without you even realising that your stress levels are through the roof – putting unnecessary strain on your overall health. Make sure you take time away from your caring duties to assess your emotions and deal with frustration, anger, hurt or fatigue if you need to. On the other hand, make sure your loved one’s emotional well-being is also being cared for.
All-too-often you may get caught up in the physical day-to-day tasks, while neglecting a loved one’s emotions. Make sure they get enough exercise, time outdoors, have events to look forward to and remind them that they can always talk to you when needed.
3. Don’t turn away outside support
When caring for an elderly loved one, a caregiver may feel the need to completely adopt all responsibility. This couldn’t be more stressful. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it all as a caregiver, there is outside support in the form of family members, friends, caregiver support groups and medical professionals.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it – whether it’s lifting to a doctor’s appointment or care taking for a weekend so you can have some time off. Make it a priority to seek outside support when it’s needed.
4. Schedule some down-time
As a caregiver this may sound like the most selfish task. But downtime is so incredibly important for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. You are also human and need something to look forward to. A weekend away with a spouse, a dinner with friends or a two-week holiday, is caregiver down time that is well deserved and shouldn’t be neglected.
If needs be, hire an elder care professional to take over your duties, they will assist in outlining a caregiving schedule and plan for your time away to ensure full peace-of-mind.
5. Banish your guilt
Caregiver guilt is one of the biggest factors which contributes to caregiver burnout. Don’t let yourself get to a stage where you feel too guilty to take time away from a loved one and end up ill or completely worn out yourself.
In the world of caregiving, there really is no room for guilt. Treat yourself like the adult you are, and remember your loved one would want you to live your life outside of caregiving responsibilities!
In order to offer the best care possible, your physical, mental and emotional well-being as a caregiver must also be made a priority. While you may struggle with the guilt of ‘making time for yourself’, it is imperative to mastering well-balanced caregiving.