caregiverBeing 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.

 

caregiver burnoutBeing a caregiver is a stressful job, putting a strain on your time, your resources, and most of all, your emotions. Unfortunately, there is no day off from being a caregiver. Your loved ones can’t control when they need you, and the more their abilities deteriorate, the more they’ll need you. It’s no wonder caregiver burnout can sneak up on you as all the stresses of the job pile up. Without a release, you’ll burn out, so we’ve come up with a list of things you can do to help you avoid that.

Talk to Someone

There are support groups for caregivers all over the country for people to get together and talk about the struggles of being a caregiver. Talking about your troubles always helps, even when the people listening can’t do anything to help. In the case of these support groups, knowing you’re not alone and that your feelings are perfectly normal can be a huge release and help you get back to your job as caregiver refreshed and ready to face whatever challenges may come your way.

If there isn’t a caregiver group in your area, start one of your own. If you can’t make it to meetings, just talking to a friend or relative about the strain can help relieve some of the pent-up emotions. At the very least, keep a journal where you can feel free to write it all out. Writing is an extremely cathartic exercise and has been shown to help with mental wellbeing and stability. It doesn’t even matter if you destroy everything you wrote when you’re done, what matters is the act of getting it all down on paper.

Set Aside Time for Yourself

It’s been said before and we’ll say it again: you can’t take care of others without first taking care of yourself. While many people (especially women) misinterpret taking time for themselves as being selfish, there’s nothing selfish about taking a break to recharge. On the contrary, doing so allows you to come back to the job better and stronger than ever, meaning you’re better able to fulfill your duties as a caretaker.

Be Realistic

Many of us want to solve the world’s problems, and even when we know on a logical level that it’s not possible, it doesn’t always stop us from overextending ourselves and agreeing to take on more responsibilities than we can handle.

When you take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one, it can be very tempting to say “yes” to everything. You’ll take care of their day-to-day needs and their nutritional needs and make sure they take all their medication and get them to each and every one of their doctor’s appointments, and handle all their finances, and why don’t you write up and notarize their will for them while you’re at it?

Taking care of a sick person who is losing control of their faculties is not like taking care of children (which is a full-time job in and of itself). Your senior relatives have built a life for themselves that will continue to follow them to the end – bank accounts, credit cards, savings, debt, assets, liabilities, etc. None of that includes the medical needs that can build up quickly as their body slowly deteriorates (unlike children, who are building up their capabilities as time goes on).

Know right away that you can’t handle your loved one’s life and your own life at the same time. Recognize your limits and agree to take on only a reasonable amount of duties that you know you can handle. This will mean asking for help from others and that’s OK because it means all of you will be able to provide your loved one with better care than you could provide by yourself.

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.