6 Tips for New Family Caregivers
If you find yourself new to the role of primary caregiver to a senior parent or loved one, we know that the responsibility can seem daunting. Especially if you’re not currently able to take advantage of any long-term or short-term senior care services for support. Being a primary caregiver isn’t easy, but investing time and energy in our senior loved ones is both important and rewarding. To help you in this new position, we’ve assembled 6 caregiver tips to help you have a positive experience.
Make Yourself a Priority
Primary caregivers often neglect their own needs. Remember that you have to be in good health to care for others. It’s equally important to attend your own doctor appointments, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly and eat well as it is for your loved one to do so.And your physical health is only one part of your happiness. Your social and emotional wellness deserve respect and attention as well. This means taking time to see friends, pursue your interests and relax. Tending to your own well-being will allow you to be a better caregiver and to avoid some of the frustration, anxiety and depression that can lead to caregiver burnout.
Ask for Help
Even as the primary caregiver, the entire job of caregiving doesn’t have to rest on your shoulders. Delegate tasks to others supporting your loved one. You can even create a list of the important everyday responsibilities, and when someone offers to help, assign them something from your list. It may take better communication and organization, but having a team of people who can step in for you when you need it will make your burden much lighter.Even out-of-town friends and family could set a standing video call with your loved one to help keep them connected and socializing. Out-of-towners could also offer regular suggestions of books, puzzles and activities your loved one might enjoy. Go ahead and ask everyone who’s willing to contribute as a family caregiver.
Join a Caregiving Community
Many caregivers report feeling lonely in their role. Find a caregiver support group, online or in person, where you can talk about your challenges and victories with other people who understand. The feeling of camaraderie, the wealth of advice and the generous empathy can help you feel less alone and more confident in your role.
Find a Routine
Surprises happen, but you’ll likely want to limit them where you can. Keep a daily or weekly routine, complete with mobile alerts and standing appointments. If your tasks feel like second nature, you can avoid as much added stress as possible.You can keep a day planner if that’s what works best for you, or you could work digitally. There are several apps available that help you track your caregiving tasks as well as your loved one’s prescriptions, pain scale and medical results. An app is also an easy way to share information with everyone providing caregiving services. Some examples of caregiver apps you might use are Caring Village, Lotsa Helping Hands and Alz & Dementia Daily Companion.
Optimize the Environment
You and your loved one will both benefit from finding every safe opportunity for your loved one to exercise independence. Look for ways they can help with household tasks or care for themselves. Meeting this goal may mean making some adjustments to your residence. Start by researching home safety for seniors in your loved one’s condition. You may need to minimize slipping and tripping hazards or make the layout wheelchair-friendly — including adding ramps or pocket doors. The more mobile your loved one can be, the more they can contribute.
Even the greatest caregivers aren’t perfect. One of the most important caregiver tips we can offer is to exercise patience with yourself. Know you’re doing your best and you’re working from a place of love and concern. If you feel frustrated, resentful, guilty, angry or ambivalent, your feelings are valid and okay. Forgive yourself and tackle the next day.
To find out more about the high-quality lifestyle and amenities at Regency Oaks, please contact us. If you think your loved one could benefit from assisted living services while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere and round-the-clock expert care, we would be happy to provide more details or arrange a virtual tour.