As a family caregiver, we are constantly asked to set aside our own lives and priorities to tend to the needs of a loved one. Over time, this can take a tremendous toll on the caregiver – we can only be stretched so thin. A caregiver who is worn out, burned out and stressed out, is not going to be the best caregiver they can be to their loved one – or themselves for that matter. There will always be challenges to face in a caregiving situation. However, with a solid foundation, navigating those challenges doesn’t have to create such an exhaustive toll on the caregiver.
The Caregiver Action Network has listed 10 tips for caregivers to build this solid foundation for themselves. Here are the highlights:
Take care of Your Own Health
If you as the family caregiver are not feeling your best, your ability to provide for your loved one will suffer. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest, find time to exercise and eat a healthy diet. So often we forget our basic needs when we are overwhelmed with obligations. Take breaks when you can. Hire a respite caregiving service to allow for you to focus back on yourself.
Organize Medical Information
Locate and update all medical information. Make sure it’s all together and easy to find. In the event of an urgent medical situation you don’t want to be scrambling to locate information because medical professionals may need them.
Ensure Legal Documents are in Order
You or some other trusted individual will need to have the appropriate authority to act on behalf of the cared-for individual. Make sure you have the appropriate incapacity planning documents in place. This will allow you to adequately manage the current responsibilities and plan for the future needs. You may also want to be planning for an eventual estate administration. Look for ways to simplify and reduce the costs of this process
Accept Offers of Help
There is no need to carry the entire burden on your shoulders if help is being offered. Take them up on it! Saving a trip to the grocery store for food or the pharmacy for a prescription can make a difference. You would be surprised how a brief respite can feel like a huge weight lifted.
Give Yourself Credit
Keep perspective. The family caregiver is one of the toughest jobs, often with little fanfare or grand appreciation. But don’t underestimate the impact you are making on another’s well-being. Your efforts are invaluable.
Unsure where to start? Our office can pass along trusted local resources to help you address any of these aspects of caregiving. Give us a call or send us an email. We’d be happy to help.