The Fundamentals of Caregiving: How to Take Care of a Loved One?
Not everyone is proficient enough when it comes to caregiving. However, sometimes, this role can be thrust upon us no matter how unknowledgeable and unprepared we are. More often than not, this happens when a loved one or someone from our family becomes sick unexpectedly. As an unspoken rule, it is our duty as a family member to take care of our sick loved ones.
To be quite honest, caregiving is challenging, demanding, and unrelenting. It requires a lot of patience and compassion to be able to take good care of a loved one. Eleanor Gaccetta, in her heartwarming memoir called One Caregiver’s Journey, precisely narrates these challenges and difficulties that caregivers often come across in the pursuit of their duty.
Nonetheless, despite its challenges and difficulties, caregiving can also be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. It can provide us with a lot of insights about life in general, and it can improve us personally. To help you become a better caregiver for your loved one, below are some caregiving fundamentals that everyone should know about one of the most underappreciated yet noble jobs in the world.
What does a caregiver do?
The duties of a caregiver vary with different sets of tasks each day. These tasks depend on the current needs and wants of the person being taken care of. Nonetheless, there are basic tasks that remain the same for everyone who undertakes the job of being a caregiver for a loved one – regardless of whether it is a parent, grandparent, sister, brother, and more. Here are some of them:
- Providing medical assistance including assessing their medical needs and monitoring their medication
- Assisting with their basic needs such as bathing and toileting
- Maintaining their home including cleaning and doing the dishes
- Food preparation including doing their grocery shopping and preparing their meals
- Helping them transfer and move from one place to another
- Transporting them to their medical appointments and other activities
- Monitoring their performance and development
How do you become a better caregiver?
As previously mentioned, not everyone is a natural caregiver. Nonetheless, caregiving is something that can be learned and trained. You do not need to be a nursing expert to be able to take care of your loved one. With adequate effort and support, you can become an effective and loving caregiver in time. There are some important things that you should keep in mind though if you want to become a better caregiver. These include:
Knowing what your loved one needs and wants
As the person in charge of taking care of a sick loved one, it is part of your role to learn about the illness or disability of your loved one as much as you can. This includes knowing the triggers of such illness or disability, and learning how to take care for it. The more you know about these things, the less anxiety you would feel about your role as a caregiver. It would also make your more effective because you already have some ideas on what your loved one needs from time to time.
Aside from his or her needs, you should also know what your loved one wants. Despite being sick, your loved one deserves to have some freedom to do whatever he or she desires for as long as it does not worsen his or her health. Remember, you are not there to police your loved one, but to assist him or her.
Finishing your caregiving tasks one at a time
Being a caregiver is no joke. There is always a lot of tasks that needs to be done to ensure the safety and well-being of the person being taken care of. On top of that, there is also always a need to cope with behaviors. Sometimes, these tasks can become overwhelming and exhausting. This is one of the unpleasant realities of day to day caregiving, which is described in depth in One Caregiver’s Journey.
Because caregiving can sometimes be overwhelming, it is important to know your limits as a caregiver. Be realistic about how much of your time and yourself you can give. Do not pressure yourself into doing and being everything at once. As much as possible, break down your tasks into bite-sized solutions. Do everything that you need to do one at a time.
Remembering to take care of yourself too
Last but not the least, more than trying to be an effective caregiver, you should make sure that you take good care of yourself too. As previously mentioned, caregiving can be an exhausting and unrelenting job that may even lead to burnout. Caregiver burnout is a real phenomenon. So, to avoid this, you need to take some time out to care for yourself every once in a while.
Get away for a bit. Take some time to enjoy yourself and do the things that you could not normally do because of your caregiving duty. Alongside this, savor every little moment you have with your loved one. Remember, you are more than just a caregiver. You are family. One caregiver’s journey should not be all about how great he or she has done his or her duty, but about how much he or she has valued his or her relationship with the loved one.