These Tips For The Beginning Caregiver Will Help You Enjoy The Rewards Of Meeting The Needs Of Your Loved One
Life happens, and you find yourself providing care for a loved one. You may be feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what to do. Pegasus caregivers in Pacoloma and elsewhere understand what you’re facing and have collected these tips for the beginning caregiver.
It may be that the amount of assistance you provided has slowly increased to a full-time job. Or perhaps your loved one was in an accident or experienced an acute medical crisis, such as a heart attack. In either case, your life has changed.
The one thing that hasn’t changed is all the other roles you have. If you’re employed, you still have a job to go to. Other family members need your attention. A multitude of activities and expectations demand your time and energy.
That’s why experts recommend adding the word caregiver to the list of your roles. Recognizing that caregiving is part of who you are and what you do, helps you manage your life. You’re better able to research caregiving resources, the same as you learn about resources for your other roles.
Caregiving Includes Multiple Tasks
Caregiving is multi-faceted, just as your other roles are. And like some of your other roles, your family members may not realize how much is involved. You may be adding routine things like extra laundry, but you’re also managing medications and doctor visits.
Other caregiving tasks may include:
- Bathing and other personal hygiene
- Getting dressed
- Moving from one location to another (e.g., from bed to chair)
- Shopping and meal preparation
- Household chores
Your loved one’s needs can increase or decrease over time, depending on their overall health.
Even small tasks can take up big chunks of your time. Make a list of all the caregiving duties you perform. That helps you prioritize, but it also lets others know how much you’re doing.
Aside from all the physical tasks, there are emotional and mental aspects of caregiving. When the going gets tough, keep these tips in mind:
- Remember who the person used to be, not what their health has turned them into
- Take a break if you start losing patience
- Respect your loved one’s opinions and forego judging them
- Set personal boundaries and balance your needs with theirs
Remember always that you are not perfect and that you are doing the best that you can.
Learn All You Can
Obtaining and understanding your loved one’s diagnosis is a necessity. Accompany them on doctor visits and make sure the doctor understands your role as caregiver. Have a signed HIPPA agreement on file with every health care provider, so they are allowed to speak with you.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to tell health care providers. Fact sheets offer background and general information. Facts help you know what symptoms to report to doctors, and facts help you know what questions to ask.
As well as understanding the diagnosis and prognosis, learn about any medications your loved one needs. Side effects may present a challenge. At the least, you’ll probably need to monitor dosages.
You will also need to keep a record of the medications organized and accessible in emergencies. That can be as simple as a handwritten list you carry. Or you can try medication management apps.
The next step may be difficult because it can require frank conversations that most people prefer to avoid. It’s essential to ensure that all legal, medical, and financial decisions are discussed, and the documents signed and organized. You’re protected, and your loved one’s wishes will be followed regardless of downturns in their health.
Checklists can assist with those difficult discussions, as well as help with planning. The more planning you can do before an emergency occurs, the better it is for everyone involved. You can use the same checklists to provide the information your family will need if you someday need care.
Self-Care Is Essential
Caregiving can be very satisfying and rewarding. It’s human nature to help others. But it can also be very stressful and fatiguing.
That’s why taking care of yourself has to be a priority. You have to take the time to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. Other self-care techniques include:
- Accepting help, even if others aren’t as competent as you are.
- Concentrating on what you can do and letting go of the guilt for what you can’t do.
- Connecting with others. If you can’t leave home, participate in online forums and support groups.
- Keeping up with your friendships and social activities.
- Looking after your own health. Tell your doctor you’re a caregiver and seek respite care when you need it.
Respite care is letting a professional take over your caregiving tasks for as long as you need. It’s one of the many services available from Pegasus. It’s an opportunity to refresh and rejuvenate your strength.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our caregivers in Pacoloma and our other locations are here for you regardless of the level of care required. National Caregivers Day is February 21 this year, but we recognize your hard work and dedication every day.