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Who Cares for the Caregiver?
Ceremonies and celebrations often mark big events in life, but when you become a family caregiver, there are no ceremonies or celebrations. Becoming a caregiver is often sudden and involuntary. Typically, no one asks if you want to become a caregiver, usually no one tells you what it might mean, or what to expect. You may not even have realized that you have taken this life-changing step.

You are a caregiver if you:

  • Take care of someone who has a chronic illness or disease.
  • Manage medications on someone’s behalf.
  • Help bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled.
  • Take care of household chores, meals, shopping, or bills for someone who cannot do these things alone.
We know the job of being a caregiver can be a difficult responsibility.

Here are some tips if you are, or know someone who is a family caregiver:

1. Offer help to caregivers

We all know someone who is a caregiver. Caregivers rarely ask for help, so it’s important to reach out to those in need and offer help. Sometimes, people don’t recognize that they need help and support, so sharing resources available in your community can be helpful.

Services might include:

  • Caregiving services: Companies like Happier at Home have a team of bonded, and insured caregivers who are fantastic at what they do, and can provide a much-needed break.
  • Adult day care: Many communities have adult day care programs which can provide respite and socialization for your loved one in need.
  • Mobile Meal Services: Mobile meal programs can ensure your loved one is getting proper nutrition. Or, set up a “meal train” and have neighbors and friends sign-up to bring over a meal throughout the week.
  • Respite services: Hire short-term companion caregivers for help, or seek out a facility in your area who provides short-term respite stays to get away for a few days of vacation or relaxation.
  • Alzheimer’s resources: There are many local organizations who can assist and provide support to families with loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.  Please feel free to call us and we can help direct you to these resources.

2. Ask for help and speak up

Friends and family members may not know what you need, or how you’re feeling. Advocating for yourself can help get you the relief you need.
  • Spread the responsibility: Try to get as many family members involved as possible, set a schedule, and work together. Placing a notebook at your loved one’s home to keep track of what’s been done can be helpful and keep everyone on the same page.
  • Set up a regular check-in: Ask a family member, friend, or volunteer from your church or senior center to call you on a regular basis (every day, weekly, or how ever often you think you need it). This person can help you spread status updates, and coordinate with other family members.
  • Accept assistance: Accept help if it is offered, even if things aren’t done exactly as you would have done them - relinquishing some control is important.  Getting a break for yourself is extremely beneficial for your own health.

3) Give yourself a break

As a busy caregiver, leisure time may seem like an impossible luxury. However, you owe it to yourself—as well as to the person you’re caring for—to carve some ‘me’ time into your schedule.
  • Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes every day for yourself. Do what you enjoy: reading, gardening, knitting, or watching the game.
  • Find ways to pamper yourself: Try small ways to relax like meditating, lighting candles, taking a long bath, getting a manicure, or even buying fresh flowers for the house.
  • Get out of the house: Seek out friends and family to step in with caregiving so that you can have some time away from the home.
  • Visit with friends and share your feelings. The simple act of expressing what you’re going through can be very helpful. If it’s difficult to leave the house, invite friends over to visit with you over coffee or dinner.

4) Practice acceptance

When faced with the unfairness of a loved one’s illness or the burden of caregiving, there’s often a need to make sense of the situation and ask “why?” This can cause some people to spend a tremendous amount of energy dwelling on things that can’t be changed, and for which there are no clear answers. Focusing on the things you can control can make the difficult job of being a caregiver a little less stressful.
  • Focus on the things you can control: You can’t wish your loved one’s illness away, or force your siblings to help more. Rather than stressing over the things you can’t control, focus on the way you choose to react to the stress.
  • Find the silver lining: Think about the ways caregiving has made you stronger, or how it’s brought you closer to the person you’re taking care of, or to other family members. Think about how caregiving allows you to give back and show your love.

5) Take care of your health

Think of your body like a car. With the right fuel and proper maintenance, it will run reliably and well. Neglect its upkeep, and it will start to give you trouble. Don’t add to the stress of your caregiving situation with avoidable health woes.
  • Keep on top of your doctor visits: Don’t skip check-ups or medical appointments.
  • Exercise: Exercise is a powerful mood enhancer and stress reducer.
  • Meditate: Relieve stress and boost feelings of joy and well-being.
  • Eat well: Fuel your body with steady energy.
  • Get your sleep: When you get less sleep, your mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress will suffer.

6) Join a support group

A caregiver support group is a way to share your concerns, and find people who are going through the same experiences that you are living each day. In most support groups, you'll talk about your problems, and listen to others talk. You'll not only get help, but you'll also be able to help others. Most importantly, you'll find out that you're not alone.
 
Happier at Home can provide as little as one-hour to 24/7 care, with a regular schedule, or short-term respite care.  You’re not alone in this, we are here to help.
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