“This is the seventh blog in the Caregiver Series that discusses Caregiver Tips”
There are some jobs that we are handed that we don’t ask for but nevertheless they are presented to us. A caregiver is one of those jobs. Am I qualified for this job? Maybe or maybe not!! A caregiver is definitely a learning experience!! Here are some tips to help ease the transition.
Take Care of Yourself
This is probably the most important tip! Being a caregiver produces a high level of stress and you have to always manage the stress. Prolonged stress has such a effect on your body and you want to maintain your health so you are able to be the caregiver.
Ways that I have used to de-stress are workouts at the gym (usually 4 times a week), fitness walk at parks or neighborhoods, monthly massages, and talking to your support person. Another great way to de-stress is to remove yourself from situations that involve people that cause you stress. It is not that you don’t care about these people, however, you must protect your well-being.
Caregivers want to help out and they are viewing the situation from a different angle. We do have to learn to be helpful only to the point that the patient is receptive for the help. The issue is that the patient is still adjusting to all the changes in their lifestyle and not always receptive to help. Lots of patience is needed!!
Support Groups are so important for the patient and the caregiver. Caregivers can suggest support groups for the patient, however it is important for the caregiver to join support groups as well. If you are looking for an in-person meeting, check your local hospitals as they are not all having in -person meetings yet due to different variants of COVID. Otherwise, you can join an online group.
This is an area that is usually avoided due to not wanting to think about death. It is important to do the planning so it is complete when the time comes. Five years ago we started the planning when my mother-in-law passed away and then life intervened. This year we completed the planning and now we can concentrate on other things.
As a caregiver, there is not a lot that you can control. Even though the diagnosis affects us as caregivers, the diagnosis is not on our body and the doctor appointments and medicines are affecting someone else. Focus on what you can control and that will constantly change.
Am I a good caregiver??
Finally, am I a good caregiver? All caregivers need help and there are resources available to help out when you get to that point. No guilt!! Below is a link to resources available on a national level. There are many more resources but these should get you started. The idea is for the patient to have enough support as they move through their diagnosis.