The decision to become a caregiver for your ill family member is not an easy one to make. Being a caregiver is difficult and there will be times when your dedication to this choice is seriously put to the test. When you are a caregiver, it can seem as though your life is consumed by your loved one’s needs: did you remember to order their incontinence supplies, which doctors’ appointments do you have to get to this week, and are you doing enough for them? But part of being a caregiver is also remembering that you need to be taken care of too, otherwise you will be of no use to those who need you. The road is challenging and you will be faced with many struggles and doubts, but with patience and love you can make it through this difficult time. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Talk With Other Caregivers
When you first decide to become a caregiver, you may be at a loss for what you should be doing or what should happen next, and rightfully so. Your best resource is to talk with other caregivers who have been in your shoes and who understand what you are going through, suggests the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. Other caregivers will be able to give you advice and resources that helped them as they transitioned into the role of caregiver that will be very helpful to you. Plus, it is always good to have a support system of people who can really relate to your situation in ways that other people in your life might not be able to.
Take Care of Yourself
As a caregiver, you need to make sure you are healthy and able to care for your loved one, says WebMD, but in reality, caregivers are often at a higher risk to develop colds, the flu, and even chronic illnesses. To keep yourself happy and healthy make sure you:
- Get regular exercise – at least two hours of moderate activity each week.
- Get enough sleep – if you are unable to sleep fully through the night, take a nap during the day.
- Make time for an activity or hobby you enjoy – this will help ease stress and give you a break.
- Get checkups regularly—remember your own health is important, too.
The situation you are in will be stressful enough without throwing yourself into a panic because you are not organized. Keeping on top of your loved one’s scheduled doctor appointments, ordering their necessary medical supplies (such as incontinence supplies, any testing supplies they may need, or other items), and making sure you have all of their medications in order will make things much easier for you. In addition, having your loved one on a schedule will help them and you through this time, especially if they are dealing with a condition that affects their memory or cognitive abilities.
Remember, you are doing this because you love them and you want to help them through their medical troubles. Even when times are difficult, you have the strength inside of yourself to keep going; just don’t be afraid to ask for help from others when you really need it.
[box_light]Cheryl is a professional caregiver who has been caring for the elderly throughout her career. She loves to share her insights about her line of work to people who are also caregivers.[/box_light]
- “I Can’t” Caregiver’s Mantra (navigatingalzheimersdisease.com)
- Caring for caregivers (wbng.com)
- Necessary Conversations in Caregiving – Part 1 (psychologytoday.com)
- Study: Caregivers More Prone to Anxiety, Depression (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- This Weekend, Grill for a Family Caregiver (caregiving.com)
Written by Guest Author
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