Being a Caregiver: 6 Things to Avoid Doing
If you are a family caregiver taking care of a loved one with dementia, then you have a firsthand understanding of the challenges caregiving can bring. Being a good caregiver requires you to reflect on your behaviors and attitudes over time, as well as confront some bad habits. As a caregiver, it is important to be aware of attributes that can negatively impact the quality of the care you give.
See if you are struggling with any of these six behaviors, attitudes, or habits that are not conducive to good caregiving.
- Sacrificing too much of yourself: People are usually forced to balance many tasks at once which can include taking care of a family, paying bills, managing a relationship, and maintaining a job. And, in addition to all these other responsibilities, you may be the primary family caregiver which adds even more on your plate.As hard as it may be, you may have to re-prioritize some responsibilities in order to keep your sanity. This can be a difficult calculation to make since a lot of responsibilities are intertwined and mutually reinforce one another. For example, many people prioritize family but can only do so if they also prioritize their job for income. But re-prioritizing doesn’t mean that you have to give anything up. It means that you may have to keep a schedule of times to devote to things like family, friends, relaxation, exercise, and the list goes on. Take some time to use a planner and try to balance the time you take on caregiving with other priorities in your life. If you find that you cannot do it all, then you probably should think about what you can cut back on, even if this means cutting back on caregiving.
- Neglecting your health or needs: Regardless of how much time you devote to being a caregiver, you must take care of yourself to be ab effective one. If you can’t take care of yourself, then you likely can’t take care of others around you. And if this is the case, then no one benefits.
- Assuming your afflicted loved one can’t make decisions: If your loved one has dementia, it is easy to forget that he or she can give you good input on important decisions. In fact, incorporating them in decision making can be very validating for them. Your loved one’s memory may not be as sharp, but he or she can convey their needs and what kind of treatment they prefer. Try incorporating your loved one in decision making whenever you think it is appropriate.
- Setting unrealistic, or too many, expectations: These expectations can take many forms: They can be about your everyday schedule, about your loved one’s capabilities, and about your capabilities. Be realistic and honest. It is okay if you cannot handle as much as you thought.
- Feeling overly guilty: Guilt can creep up on you in complicated ways. You may feel guilty for getting mad at a loved one for their condition which has put you in a difficult situation. You may feel guilty for being unable to meet your or other people’s expectations. You may feel guilty for being unable to be more available. Or you may feel guilty for wanting some time away from your loved one, both physically and mentally. None of these situations mean that you care about your loved one any less. Instead of feeling guilt, try to remind yourself of all that you are doing and for what you have been able to do.
- Avoiding the hard facts: Learning that a loved one has dementia is a frightening experience. But the correct reaction is to face the facts and not hide. Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s condition. Communicate with them about what they want for their future. You should learn about what care options he or she wants, and who he or she wants to designate as a power of attorney. These conversations can be hard to have, but ultimately they are in the best interest of your loved one.
ElderCare at Home is here for you. If you have questions or are interested in how we can help, please call 888-285-0093 or visit our website.