The incredible people who commit their time and energy to ensure the safety of their loved ones deserve the very best resources to safeguard their families and their own lives.
Few people are prepared to become caregivers, even if they know it is possible. Caring for aging parents or a loved one requires dramatic changes to your life; the following steps can be daunting, even scary. The good news is that you are far from the first person who has had to walk this road, and plenty of expert advice and support systems are available to you on this journey.
Eight Personal Lessons You Can Implement in Your Caregiving Responsibilities
As a labor of love, family members or friends often voluntarily take on the role of caregiver. But this can come at an expense to the individual providing care. Like many of you, you might have been thrown into the caregiver role. To some, they did understand what was involved. To others, they did not.
Here are eight (8) powerful lessons you can learn that can support you on your wonderful journey of caring for a loved one.
1. Build a tribe of those who you can trust and have your back and those who have wisdom. It is easier to choose the proper care at the right time when you have your tribe to rely on. Being a caregiver can be lonely if you do not have support.
2. Situations and needs change, and care plans will change. Try to be flexible about home care and assisted living from the start of the journey. Caring for an older adult can feel like a wild ride. When you think the path is figured out, there can be an unforeseen turn, loop, or drop. It helps to develop the flexibility muscle before things get heavy.
3. Self-care needs to be a daily occurrence and done without guilt. It does not have to be complex. It can be simple. It can be as simple as getting 7-8 hours of sleep when you can. Self-care is critical for the marathon and the sprint of caring for an older adult.
4. You, as the caregiver, can choose the path and prioritize the direction of care. Focus on safety, no pain, and dignity in your caregiving journey.
5. Advanced Directives and other important signed documents are critical for loved ones and you. These are difficult discussions to have with a loved one and among family, but necessary. But making sure advanced directives and other important legal documents are completely important. Equally important – knowing where they are located. In times of stress, no one wants to be hunting for them. Have a short conversation. Put the documents securely and tell a trusted person where they are.
6. Create your centralized support and information, especially concerning services. Grab a notebook and make sections for important information such as phone numbers, documents, medications, services, bills, etc. Remember to have a place where you can write down questions. Nothing brings a feeling of “I can do this,” like knowing where to find the important stuff.
7. Own what you are feeling. For many caregivers, their new responsibility stirs up emotions. It is sometimes impossible to make sense of it all and face this new reality. It is all too easy to suppress what you are feeling. Instead, experts recommend making space to identify and name your emotions. Sadness, anger, grief, and loneliness are all common responses to becoming a caregiver. When you remember what you feel, it is easier to understand what you need and how to ask for help.
8. Take 15 minutes a day. Your physical health as a caregiver is just as important as tending to your emotional well-being. But making significant changes to your daily routines is difficult even under normal circumstances. You can try many activities, such as stretching or yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises like box breathing. Creative activities are terrific, too, from working on a puzzle or journaling to playing an instrument or reading a book. By reading, grab a copy of Eleanor Gaccetta’s One Caregiver’s Journey book. Eleanor’s book is a must-read if you are a caregiver or about to become a caregiver. This personal memoir will make you laugh, cry and even tug at your heart as the author shares her experiences providing 24/7 care to her mother for 9 ½ years until her mother’s death at age 102. The book is an easy read, honestly written, and provides suggestions and information that all caregivers can utilize. The author wrote the book over a long period, and it is a snapshot of the reality of the stages, changes, and many challenges caregivers face over time. It is a caregiver’s blueprint. Reading this book, you will feel you are in the author’s living room, and she is telling her story and offering an abundance of advice and information.
In Closing Caregiving for a loved one can be an isolating, physically and emotionally taxing journey. The incredible people who commit their time and energy to ensure the safety of their loved ones deserve the very best resources to safeguard their families and their own lives. Most of all, they deserve to feel in control and confident in their ability to care for the people they care about most