Becoming an Early-Stage Family Caregiver
Learning that your aging loved one needs care can be a lot to take in at once. There is no easy way to transition from your previous life to the life of a family caregiver. In the end, the transition will require a lot of patience, learning, and life management. In this blog, we want to cover three tips on how to prepare for the role of a family caregiver, like what kinds of skills will you have to learn, as well as what skillsets you must use to do the best job you can.
Family caregiving is the role of taking care of a loved one who is either a family member or who has a close relationship to your family. Caregiving responsibilities can entail a variety of things, like assisting with bathing and dressing, transporting your loved one to and from the doctor’s office, as well as living with them. In other words, family caregiving means huge life changes take place not just for you, but for your loved one, as well.
Tips to Consider as an Early-Stage Caregiver
It is not easy to know what to do, but here are some suggestions to consider as a beginning caregiver.
Maintain a Healthy Life Balance: Being a family caregiver can drain you of time and energy. It is not selfish to take time for yourself, as well as to say “no” to certain tasks. Self-care, like exercise, sleep, eating healthy, and leisure activities are necessary habits to regain energy levels and preserve physical and mental health. One way to ensure balance is to ask for help, either from family members, friends, local volunteers (like at churches), or by hiring a professional caregiver a few times a week. Family caregiving does not mean you have to take on every single responsibility—that is unsustainable. In other words, do not be afraid to ask for help and take help when it is offered.
Learn: As a caregiver, you should educate yourself about your loved one’s condition, as well as the proper things you can do as a caregiver to cater to their needs. You can find a lot of information online, contacting your local Area Agency on Aging, or discussing information with your loved one’s doctor if possible. Other possibilities include seeing a caregiving counseling group or meeting with a case manager who can connect you with the appropriate resources.
Communicate Well: Many issues result from improper communication. One of the best things to do is to practice clear communication and active listening. Clear communication entails talking honestly about your needs and expectations. This is important if you are working side-by-side with other family members as family caregivers. To avoid conflicts as much as possible, try not to form assumptions about others when you talk to them, and use reason based on facts that you know are true. Working with a team of people increases the potential for conflict, so it is important to reduce these chances if possible.
Additionally, active listening and good communication can help the relationship between you and your loved one. Pay attention to your loved one’s needs and wants. Sometimes your loved one can tell you directly, other times you will need to pay attention to their body language, their behavior patterns, or their emotional reactions to situations.
If you have any other questions, feel free to call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.