Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

The decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is rarely easy. It’s laced with emotions, logistical hurdles, and a lingering worry about their well-being. However, ensuring their loved ones receive the care they need is the best action for many families.

Taking on the role of a family caregiver is an act of immense love and dedication. It can also be a complex and emotionally demanding journey.

The challenges can feel overwhelming at times. But you’re not alone. Millions of families across the globe navigate this path, and with the right tools and support, you can ensure they receive exceptional care while maintaining your well-being.

Nursing home nurses witness the challenges and triumphs of family caregiving firsthand. They understand the emotional rollercoaster and the practical complexities involved. 

Advice from the Nursing Home

Nursing home staff thrives on open communication with families. They recommend not hesitating to ask questions, voice concerns, and share insights about loved ones’ preferences and routines. Most often, family members are the experts on their loved ones, so ask yourself and ask other family members. The more you know, the better you can tailor care to their needs and wishes.

The nursing home staff view themselves as partners, not solely service providers. Think of what you’re doing as a collaborative effort. Work together to create a care plan that reflects your loved one’s needs and the family’s input.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be your loved one’s advocate when dealing with important matters.

Nursing Home Advice: Understanding Your Role

The first and best piece of advice for caregivers is to acknowledge the scope of your responsibilities. Family caregivers typically provide a variety of services, which may include:

  • Daily living assistance. It’s a caregiver’s job to help their loved ones with bathing, dressing, eating, and other activities of daily living.
  • Medical care management: A very important aspect of caregiving is coordinating appointments, administering medications, and monitoring health conditions.
  • Emotional support: Caregivers should provide companionship, listen, and offer encouragement to their loved ones.
  • Household management: The responsibility of caregivers involves cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping.
  • Financial management: Aside from domestic responsibilities, caregivers also have to help with budgeting, bill payments, and insurance claims.

Your primary duties will depend on your loved one’s specific needs. Be open to communication and adjust your approach as their condition evolves. That’s another point of advice from the nursing home.

Nursing Home Advice: Building a Care Plan

Another helpful piece of advice from the nursing home is to establish a comprehensive care plan. Planning is crucial for organizing your efforts and ensuring your loved one receives the best care. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Assessment: Work with your loved one’s doctor to understand their current and future medical needs.
  2. Goals and Preferences: Discuss their desired level of independence and preferred care approach.
  3. Financial Planning: Research available benefits, insurance coverage, and potential costs associated with care.
  4. Team Building: Identify family members, friends, and professional services who can contribute to the caregiving effort.
  5. Resource Exploration: Find local support groups, respite care services, and educational resources for caregivers.

For complex situations, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance.

The Self and the Network 

Caregiver burnout is a natural and severe threat. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s essential to providing quality care in the long run. 

Maintain your physical health. Schedule regular medical checkups for yourself and prioritize healthy habits like sleeping, exercising, and having balanced meals. When it comes to your emotions, be careful not to bottle them all up. Schedule breaks from caregiving duties, and make time for yourself. If possible, utilize in-home care services and adult day care programs or ask for help from loved ones.

And lastly, don’t lose sight of your passions. It’s good to be diligent in caring for your loved ones, but remember to set aside time for hobbies, social activities, and pursuits that bring you personal joy.

There’s also the matter of reaching out to others. No one should undertake caregiving alone. As a caregiver, you should never be alone or feel that you are. That is why it’s good to have family meetings. Regularly discuss caregiving roles, responsibilities, and challenges with family members. Remember that you have friends and neighbors. Reach out to your circle for practical help with errands, transportation, or simply a listening ear.

These connections can offer invaluable help and emotional support. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

One Caregiver’s Journey by Eleanor Gaccetta is a great book for learning more about how to be a great caregiver. Pick up a copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or most online book retailers.

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