Becoming a caregiver is something we rarely plan for. Few children say, “I’m going to be a caregiver when I grow up,” but when faced with age and/or chronic illness, many people do turn to their grown children or other family members for help in dealing with their newly-fragile state, including some of the more basic aspects of day-to-day care.
If you now find yourself thrust into the position of caregiver and don’t know where to begin, we’ve got some tips for you:
Whatever medical issues your loved one is dealing with, you should make sure you at least know the basics. What are the typical outcomes? Treatments? Side effects of the medications? You should know as much as you can because you’re going to be the one dealing with them. This can mean a quick internet search (or very intensive internet search, depending on your research style), asking a librarian or bookseller for book recommendations, and talking to medical professionals who specialize in that field.
It should also mean you’re present at doctor’s meetings. Patients often fail to ask their doctors the right questions (or any questions) or they forget to mention symptoms. As a caregiver, you are responsible for acting as your loved one’s advocate and nowhere is that more important than the doctor’s office. Not only do you have to keep the doctor informed of all developments, but you are in the best position to make sure the patient takes all their medication when they’re supposed to, gets the prescribed exercise, eats right, etc.
Aging can be a lonely time of life for many people, but sometimes the caregiver can also be left feeling isolated. Even if you’re surrounded by friends and family, they might not understand what you’re going through or the specific challenges associated with being a caregiver.
Fortunately there are communities out there to provide support, advice, and a sympathetic ear. There are online communities as well as ones that meet in person. You can check MeetUp.com to see if there are any groups in your area already meeting to discuss these things. If not, you can start your own group. Either way it’s important to know you’re not alone.
Take Care Of Yourself
As any mother will tell you, when you’re caring for someone else, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, and what little time we do spend in self care can often leave us feeling guilty. But the fact is that taking care of yourself is an important aspect of taking care of your loved one. If you’re not at your best, then you won’t be able to provide the best care. So make sure you eat right, exercise regularly, and take time to enjoy some of your favorite hobbies every now and then. You and your charge will both be better off for it.
And remember there’s no reason you can’t make taking care of yourself part of taking care of your loved one. You’re probably in charge of their meals anyway, so while you’re cooking up something delicious and nutritious for them, make some for yourself. Consider what exercises they’re capable of and exercise together. Do a puzzle together. Read out loud to them. Taking care of them will be a lot of hard work, but there’s no reason it can’t also be fun every now and then.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.
CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.