Do’s and Don’ts to Being a Caregiver

 Do’s and Don’ts to Being a Caregiver

Being a caregiver is certainly not for the faint of heart. It requires an intense amount of selflessness. Unless you’ve watched someone fill the role of a caregiver, it can be challenging to explain the toll it can potentially take on a person. Research points to the fact that it’s not uncommon or far-fetched to watch a caregiver die first. If you are filling the position of a caregiver, there are plenty of factors to consider. As you walk into this role, remember the following tips.

1. Do Your Due Diligence Regarding Caregiving Resources

Even if you do this research for 15 minutes before you head to bed, take time to look for resources for yourself. There are many national and local resources you can tap into as a caregiver. Whether it’s free therapy sessions, cell phone bill assistance, or grocery services, see what’s available for you. While most caregivers tend to focus so much on the patient (and that’s not bad), you can’t forget about your own needs as well. Even though a therapy session might seem unnecessary, it can do wonders for your mental health. When you’re able to find resources, take advantage of them. As you support someone in their time of need, know that it’s okay to allow someone else to support and take care of your needs as well.

2. Don’t Hesitate to Seek Additional Help

Seek additional help in as many ways as you can. Find four family members or friends who are willing to prepare a casserole once a month. This means that once a week, you’d have a different meal coming from a different source. This is one less chore you’ll need to handle. Look for people who can take your place in watching your loved one while you take time for yourself. Monitor the severity of the illness your patient is facing. Once the situation gets past a certain point, you have to call in reinforcements. There’s only so much you can do on your own. If you have a loved one with dementia, know that there are different types of dementia. Depending on how bad it is, professional care might be the only option. Always get a good scope of the situation to know how much you can handle. Even if it’s all manageable, still call in reinforcements because caregiving gets exhausting. You’ll need a break.

3. Don’t Forget About Your Needs

It’s not uncommon for people on the outside to preach about the importance of self-care. However, when you’re in the trenches of caregiving, it’s hard to know or understand what self-care looks like. You have to monitor this for yourself. Yet, you can start with your basic needs. You need to sleep well. You need to remain hydrated. Drink as much water as you can throughout the day. It’s also important to move your body. Go for a walk each day. If you have access to a gym, go to the gym daily. Develop systems of self-care that involve stretching so that you remain limber and strong. Try your best to avoid eating copious amounts of junk food. Emotional eating will send you down a bad road. Instead, try your best to eat nutrient-rich foods that will support your body’s ability to care for your patient and thrive.

4. Do Your Best to Maintain Structure

When you’re the caregiver, keep track of whether your patient is taking their medications, eating, and more. Don’t leave it up to them to keep track of them. One of the best ways to make it easier on your mind is by maintaining structure. Keep a running chart where you can check off medication times, food journals, and more. If it’s easier to maintain a digital chart, create one. When it’s time for doctor’s visits or medical emergencies, you’ll have all of the information regarding what happened within the past 24 hours. Keep the medical information such as phone numbers, insurance cards, and more within a digital folder that you can easily access at any given time.

If you’ve never taken on the role of a caregiver, it can be easy to assume that it’s just another job you’re taking on. However, there will be hard days. There will be days where you feel like quitting. When those days come around, know that you’re not losing your mind. Caregiving is hard. However, with these tips in mind, it’s much easier to find a sweet spot where you can show up for the patient as you show up for yourself.

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