You may be familiar with the saying, “Accidents don’t take a vacation.” For many, the phrase is just a passing thought. However, it’s something you want to be mindful of because you never know when the unexpected can happen. Sometimes, an accident will require your attention for only a temporary amount of time, like if your spouse breaks his or her arm and will need more assistance throughout the house. Other times, your loved one getting into an accident changes your entire life. This can come in the form of a near-fatal car accident, work accident or more. And, sometimes, an “accident” isn’t really the name for it — sometimes, your loved one falling ill is what requires you to take care of him or her. Each are unfortunate incidents.
When these things happen, it’s possible that you have to take on a new role: the caregiver. This is a loving role to become, but it can be hard to quickly be one. So, this is where The Best Senior Services can help. We have put together this article to help you get a better understanding as to how you can take on the role of the caregiver.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that you likely are not a professional caregiver. The tips included in this article are to help manage the everyday life and the smaller tasks associated with assisting your loved one. In the event of an emergency, contact 911 and your local hospital for immediate assistance.
Now, before we begin to tell you how to do it, it’s important to note what a caregiver really is and why it’s an important role to become.
What is a caregiver?
A caregiver is exactly what it sounds like. It is someone who regularly cares for a child or someone who is sick, disabled or elderly.
Being a good caregiver is one of the most important things you can do for your loved one who needs you. It takes patience, compassion, and genuine intentions. It also demands a lot of time on your feet, as you will frequently be moving around to help your loved one.
Why is care giving so important?
It’s hard for a lot of people to admit that they need help in any form. So, when a loved one is turning to you for help, it’s important that you are there for them to ease any of the pain they are experiencing. Not only is it your job to help around with the needs that this person has, but it is also up to you to provide comfort and support when this person needs you the most.
The person you are helping out no longer has the ability to do the tasks that he or she was once able to perform. Helping this person, while trying to keep his or her life as normal as possible, is an important task because you would want the same thing for yourself.
So now, let’s get into how you can take on the role of being the caregiver.
How to do it
There are a lot of things you can do to prepare yourself as the caregiver of the household.
Be kind to yourself. This is one of the most important things you can do while adopting this new role. Undoubtedly, there will be days where being the new caregiver to your loved one will be hard. Your patience will be tested, and you will feel like you will be at your wits’ end. That’s what makes this all the more important. Forgiving yourself will protect you from blaming yourself for any mistakes you have made. Being kind to yourself will give you more room to take care of yourself and do the things that you enjoy. Becoming a caregiver is a large task but taking this on does not mean that you have to abandon yourself along the way. Seek help from a therapist who will emotionally help you throughout this time.
Establish healthy communication. If you’re able to, establish a line of healthy communication with whom you’re taking care of, as well as other loved ones. Establishing communication with the person you are caring for will open the floor to conversations about what you both need. Healthy communication will also allow you both to continue to build your relationship based on understanding and empathy. You can do this by setting up a time in which the two of you sit down and discuss what you will need from one another. Whether that be quiet hours, alone time or bonding time is up to you, but meeting to establish your desires and needs will go a long way because you are each putting in effort to make this time as easy as you can.
Pay attention to what your loved one needs. Oftentimes, you will have to help the person you’re caring for with basic tasks, like bathing, feeding and changing. If there comes a time where he or she is no longer able to speak for communication, you will have to be observational and understand what is needed and when. You can do this by setting a schedule — establishing a time for meals, cleaning and bed will help you keep track of what needs to be done and when. Your loved one will also be able to anticipate each day, too, which will ease any stress or confusion he or she may have.
If your loved one is ill, take the time to learn more about the diagnosis. You can do this by researching online, attending web seminars, or meeting with a specialized doctor to learn more about your loved one’s health condition. Learning more about the diagnosis will help further your understanding of what your loved one needs and help you better assist them if an emergency happens.
Refrain from creating any unrealistic expectations. This one definitely seems more difficult than it is. A common misconception is that, as you take on this role, you will be nursing your loved back to where he or she can manage alone. This may be the case if your loved one has just gotten into an accident and has been told to expect a full recovery, but it’s not the case for a lot of progressive illnesses, like Parkinson’s or chronic pancreatitis. Focus on the information you have at the moment and spend as much time as you can in the present with your loved one.
Accept help. In this case, you are a “non-skilled” caregiver, meaning you likely don’t have the medical background to determine the exact needs that your loved one has. That’s why there are many professionals who are ready assist you in any way you need, whether it be advice or teaching through demonstration. Ask for help from a professional (or accept any help that he or she offers) to help you take on this role in a more manageable way. This will lift some confusions you may have had about the role and educate you on how to move forward. And it’s important to note, that any help you are offered does not have to be from a professional. If a family member or friend offers to help you for the day, be sure to allow them to, even if it’s just every once in a while.
Meal prep when you can. When you are cooking, make enough so that you can meal prep and have leftovers on standby. The beauty of meal prep is, you don’t have to eat it within a few days if you don’t want to. You can freeze the food so that it lasts for a few months and is ready to be thawed when you want to eat it again. Having meals prepped will save you time and will come in handy when the last thing you want to do is cook.
Establish a schedule. There are still things that need to be done around the house, like cleaning, laundry and running errands. Create a schedule so that you can set aside specific days and times to do these things. This will help you hold yourself accountable so that other needs aren’t left behind. If you are able to, considering hiring a cleaning professional to help you around the house so that you can prioritize one less thing.
It may feel like taking on the role of the caregiver is a lot, and it’s likely that at times you will feel overwhelmed with confusion and wide-ranging emotions. Not only is that a normal thing to experience, it’s also a part of the process. If you are struggling with how to become a caregiver, remember that you are not alone. You are doing a noble thing and it is worth acknowledging.
At The Best Senior Services, we focus on educating seniors and providing them great options for insurance and other financial services. Call us at 855.979.8277 or visit our website today to learn more about how we can help you or your loved ones.
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