Supporting Caregivers: Tips for Staying Resilient and Effective
Empowering advice for those who care for others.
Navigating the role of a caregiver can be challenging, but with the right advice and tips, you can effectively support your loved one while taking care of yourself.
There are more than 53 million caregivers in this country alone. The monetary value of family caregivers’ contributions estimated at about $600 billion in 2023, although the real value of caregivers far exceeds any dollar amount.
Take Care of Yourself
As a caregiver, putting yourself first often takes a back seat. But to be an effective caregiver, you must take care of yourself. It is pretty simple: when your needs are taken care of, the person you care for benefits as well.
Caregivers report problems attending to their own health and well-being while managing caregiving responsibilities. Those include sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, failure to exercise, failure to stay in bed when necessary and putting off necessary medical appointments and treatments for themselves.
For caregivers to maintain their own wellbeing, it’s important they have a personal support plan in place, ask for help when needed and keep their caregiving skills up to date. Caregivers will also benefit greatly from participating in caregiver support groups, utilizing available resources, prioritizing self-care and stress management techniques.
Caregiving can be an emotional roller coaster, but caring for your family member demonstrates love and commitment and can be a very rewarding experience.
Tips and Advice for Caregivers
Take time to recharge your batteries. Here are some tips for caregivers:
- You are not alone. Reach out for support and connect with other caregivers who understand what you’re going through.
- Take care of your own health so you can be strong enough to take care of others even if it’s a quick walk after dinner and meditating.
- Be open to accepting help when it’s offered.
- Be an effective communicator with the medical team. Prepare questions and concerns before appointments, keep organized records of medical information and proactively advocate respectfully for the patient’s needs.
- Plan and schedule breaks to ensure you are rested and ready to help others.
- Watch for signs of fatigue and get professional help when needed.
- Be open to adopting new ways to do things – like using technology to save time and added errands. Utilizing online medical portals can be an efficient and effective way to stay connected with medical professionals.
- Maintain an organized reporting of medical information so it is current and at hand.
- Ensure your legal affairs are in order, including establishing power of attorney, if necessary, for the person you’re caring for.
- Go easy on yourself and give yourself credit for doing a tough job.
Tasks and Roles of a Caregiver
Honest communication is essential between a caregiver and the person being cared for. That communication also extends to the team of medical professionals working with them. Direct, open dialogue about the extent to which treatment is working is critical. Since the person cannot always speak on their own behalf, being an advocate is an important role for a caregiver.
Caregivers also usually handle daily activities like bathing, dressing, and mealtime support, along with tasks like meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, and bill payments. Caregivers offer vital support and encouragement to the person they are caring for, emphasizing open and honest communication to build trust, especially during emotional or physical challenges, which requires constant empathy.
When caregivers are present for meetings with nurses or doctors, they should come prepared – write down any questions or concerns and take notes during the appointment. This practice will help to assist loved ones in making care decisions. Caregivers may also be asked to pick up medication, provide transportation to and from appointments and help handle scheduling appointments, billing or insurance questions.
While “caregiver support group” may seem contradictory, it’s essential to engage with others facing similar responsibilities and daily ups and downs for mutual understanding and support.
Here is just one place to get caregiver resources online.
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Senior care needs can vary greatly, and it’s crucial to find a community that caters to everyone’s unique requirements. Whether one partner requires assistance with daily activities while the other remains independent, or if one is experiencing dementia symptoms while the other isn’t, we offer personalized solutions to meet your needs. Considering a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) for yourself or a loved one? At The Commons, we provide a diverse range of living options tailored to individual lifestyles.