Being a caregiver for a family member or loved one is one of the most rewarding jobs, but it’s also one of the toughest. It involves long hours, little or no pay, and it can be very emotionally draining. At the same time, people who aren’t or have never been caregivers often fail to understand just how tough it can be. If they’re not there “in the trenches” with you, they’re not seeing the day-to-day struggle and so they often assume that things aren’t that bad.
If you’re new to the role of caregiver, we have some tips on how you can, not just survive being a caregiver, but make the most of this time for both you and the one for whom you’re caring.
- Get a Good Diagnosis
Understanding your loved one’s diagnosis is key to preparing both them and yourself for the next steps of their disease. Depending on the condition, your loved one’s general practitioner might be able to provide a preliminary diagnosis, but it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from a specialist and/or a geriatrician. Find someone who knows everything there is to know about your loved one’s specific condition because they’ll be best equipped to prepare you for what’s coming.
Once you get a good diagnosis, do as much research on the disease as you can. Talk with other people who have been through the same thing so you know what to expect and how to take care of your loved one through all the stages to come.
- Get Friends and Family Involved
As stated above, people who aren’t or have never been caregivers often underestimate everything that’s involved because they haven’t seen it for themselves. Maintaining open lines of communication with close friends and family members is key to keeping them in the loop and helping them to understand everything that’s involved in caring for your loved one.
Recruiting help from others is also a great way to take some of the weight of caregiving off your shoulders. Tell them when you need help and what you need so they can lend a hand and you don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself. You don’t have to be alone in this, so never be afraid to reach out, even if it’s just for a conversation so you can vent. This brings us to our next tip:
- Take Care of Yourself
Taking time for yourself can feel selfish when you’re a caregiver because it’s easy to feel like the loved one your caring for needs care more than you do. But if you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ve heard a flight attendant tell you that if they lose pressure in the cabin and they release the oxygen masks, that you have to put on your own mask before helping anyone else put on theirs. You can’t help anyone else breathe if you can’t breathe, and that remains true in other aspects of your life, including caregiving.
Part of giving yourself the time and space to take care of yourself when you’re a caregiver includes understanding what resources are available to you. At Stillwater Senior Living, not only do we help our residents thrive in their golden years, but we also provide resources for caregivers like you to help you manage the challenges of being a caregiver. You can start with our other blog posts or reach out to us directly if you have specific questions. We’re happy to help.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites, and we are pet friendly. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family. We are also excited to open our Memory Care Neighborhood in the Spring of 2020.
CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.