The casual expression “take care” takes on a whole new meaning when charged with caring for an aging or ill loved one. Although the word “caregiver” may conjure images of smiles and magic moments, being a caregiver can be physically, mentally, emotionally and socially strenuous.
Here are 9 tips to help caregivers succeed:
1. Plan ahead: There aren’t many people that look forward to aging and all of the challenges that come with it. So creating a plan of what to do when that day comes may not be a top priority on many people’s to-do lists. Taking time to plan is absolutely necessary.
2. Get resourceful: Learn about available resources before you need them. Take advantage of education and training, especially the free stuff.
3. Baby steps: Don’t try to tackle all of your loved one’s needs at once. Take it one day at a time. It’s pretty overwhelming when you’re caring for yourself, as we all do daily, and then all of a sudden you take on the responsibility of caring for someone else. Take baby steps.
4. Be prepared: Develop a contingency plan for emergency or accident scenarios. Include details on others that could pitch in to provide care. Make sure you’re not standing alone and trying to do it all yourself. Gather your support group, your family, and make a contingency plan so that if something does happen to you, your obligation will still be fulfilled.
5. Say yes: Learn to accept help. It is very common for caregivers to be very heroic. This is especially true if you’re a spousal caregiver. It can be difficult for a spouse who has taken care of a partner for a lifetime to let anyone step in and help. But make a conscious effort to let others help.
6. Take Care of You: Although it is the nature of a caregiver to focus on another’s needs, don’t forget about yourself. It is very classic for a caregiver to sacrifice their own health for the person they care for. Take proper medication, keep doctor’s appointments, exercise, get plenty of rest and eat properly.
7. Take time off: Make time for leisure activities. Find an outlet for stress relief — such as exercise, traveling, cooking — and utilize it regularly. Don’t fret about what could be happening during that time and instead enjoy the freedom.
8. Find support: Be good to yourself. Make sure you have an opportunity to share your feelings with others. Join a support group and attend regularly in order to vent feelings and learn tips from other caregivers.
9. Read up: Learn as much as possible about the disease afflicting the person cared for. You want to learn about the disease, and you want to learn how to cope with it, especially in a dementia case. For instance, if a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, there are coping strategies that may make living with the disease easier on a caregiver.
To contact us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Please call us at (561) 588-4545 or visit us online at www.AlzheimersCareResourceCenter.org. Thanks for watching today’s Monday mojo and we’ll see you again next week!