Many of us will ultimately become caregivers—for a parent, adult child or a spouse. These tips will help prepare you for this challenging role.
- Posted on May 27, 2021
No two family caregiving situations are exactly the same. Pamela Haskin’s experience with her mother’s Parkinson’s disease differed greatly from what Edwina Perkins encountered when she moved to care for her adult daughter with cancer. Still, some experiences—including stress—are universal. Whether you’re caring for a spouse, parent or child, these tips can help you avoid burnout and successfully navigate your caregiving journey.
Stay organized. As a primary caregiver, you’ll likely need to understand and manage your loved one’s financial, legal and medical affairs. Store all important documents in an easy-to-reach location so you don’t have to scramble to find information when it’s needed. It’s also helpful to create a schedule that details the routines and nuances of a loved one’s care.
Practice open communication. Effective communication with family members and other care providers is crucial. Ask your loved one about their needs and priorities, and be prepared to share these preferences with others. If you’re working outside the home, make sure to let your employer know about your new responsibilities. More employers are recognizing that flexible work arrangements and paid leave for elder caregiving allow them to recruit and retain employees.
Get support. Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. Discuss specific tasks that your siblings or professionals can assist with, such as meal prep, light housekeeping or respite care at home from a company like Home Instead. Make use of support groups and online resources to find answers, share ideas and even talk with experts and other caregivers. If you care for someone with dementia, you may be eligible for an Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Relief Grant; go to helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/grant/ to apply.
Take care of yourself. Remember to prioritize your physical and mental well-being. You can’t be a good caregiver if your tank is empty. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help relieve stress. Try small changes first: Eat a good breakfast, drink plenty of water and keep healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables and nuts on hand. Try to fit in exercise whenever you can, even if for only 10 or 15 minutes.
Seek a source of inspiration. Many caregivers find comfort in their spirituality. Others lean on a spouse or close friend to help keep them motivated and inspired. Activities to renew your spirit may include walking, reading or soaking up Mother Nature.
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