Things to Remember When Becoming a Family CaregiverJanuary 24, 2023
When you first take on the role of caregiver, most of the trials and tribulations you hear about revolve around the care of your loved one. These are certainly major aspects of the role, but there are other things to remember when becoming a family caregiver too. While these details are universal truths among many caregivers, they are often overshadowed by other details.
Caring for seniors is different from caring for a child
Many family caregivers have already raised, or are currently in the process of, caring for children. They may think the process of caring for an elderly loved one is the same, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your elderly loved one held a job, raised a family, and lived through major world events. They still deserve to be treated like an adult.
Your caregiving challenges do not revolve around providing them the tools they need to be functioning adults. Instead, you will have to contest with hearing problems or personal care issues. Do not diminish your language choices for your elderly loved one like you might for a child. Speak to them the same way you would speak to any adult—just know you may have to repeat yourself from time to time.
Respect their independence
In a similar vein to the previous point, don’t take away your loved one’s independence in one fell swoop. Unless they recently experienced a serious injury or medical crisis, they likely don’t need you to take over every aspect of their life quite yet. Don’t take over everything because you think it’s your job—leave them certain tasks so they still feel they’re involved in their life.
Assess what it is they need your help with, and what they can still handle on their own. For instance, just because they need help with dressing, it doesn’t mean that they can’t cook. Have them maintain whatever chores they enjoy, and don’t forget to include them in important decisions about their lives.
There may be a strain on your personal relationships
Between work and family responsibilities, you likely already felt stretched thin at times. When you take on the role of caregiver for your elderly loved one, it’s even harder. You won’t have the same time that you once did to meet up with friends or go out with your special someone. This can be upsetting to them and may even lead to disagreements.
Make sure your friends and family members understand your situation. Stress to them that you may be absent from events or social gathers due to extenuating circumstances, and that it has nothing to do with them. Try to keep in contact with them through calls or messaging, and every so often arrange for someone else to watch your elderly loved one so you can spend time with them.
Don’t forget to prioritize your health
It’s easy to push aside your own needs in favor of the needs of your elderly loved one. Their health and safety should be one of your top concerns, of course, but you can’t lose sight of your own health in the process. Caregivers are more likely to neglect their sleep, exercise, and doctor’s appointments as they care for their loved one.
You can’t offer your loved one the best support possible if you don’t first care for yourself. Eat nutritious meals, drink water, and make time for even short exercise sessions. Take care of your mental health by enjoying your favorite, decompressing hobby and spending time with your family and friends.
Get help from a respite caregiver
There is no shame in needing a break from time to time. When that happens, call upon the help of a respite caregiver. These professionals are trained to offer seniors assistance with any non-medical activities of daily living they require help with. With their aid, you can rest easy knowing your loved one is properly taken care of.
If you’d like to learn more about respite care, call us at (773) 274-9262. We’d be happy to speak with you.
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