Being a good, empathetic caregiver requires a lot of love, patience, and discipline. To be a good caregiver, it's important to be able to recognize that you can't just take care of your loved one, you also have to take care of yourself. Keep reading for advice from other caregivers on how to be the best, most empathetic family caregiver you can be.
Keep medical and legal documents properly sorted so when you need something it's easy to find. This includes doctor visit summaries, bills, prescription information and so on. If a billing issue comes up at your loved one's specialist appointment, the last thing you want to have to do is go home and dig through piles of unorganized paperwork.
If your loved one takes medications on a daily basis, keep a log of active prescriptions and dosages. To make management easier, it can also be good practice to write down what they take each day and at what time. That way you'll never have to worry about missed or duplicate doses.
Be willing to accept help:
It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that you're the best (and maybe even only) person who can care for Mom or Dad. Don't allow yourself to go there. You need to be able to rely on family and friends to do things for you and your loved one from time to time. Perhaps that's driving to a medical appointment, picking up prescriptions, or simply coming over to spend time with your loved one when you have a conflict or need a break. If you don't have family nearby who can help, consider bringing in a respite caregiver.
Take care of yourself:
This is probably the most critical piece of advice. Caregiving takes a toll on you. It's stressful, both physically and mentally - especially if you have kids or teenagers that you're also trying to care for. Many family caregivers reach a point where they've stretched themselves too thin and feel tired, frustrated, and burnt out.
Because caring for a loved one is such an all-consuming process, family caregivers are especially prone to ignoring their own health and well being. This can present itself in the form of neglecting to exercise, ending up with sleep deprivation, forgetting to make medical appointments on time and so on. Does any of this sound familiar?
It's important to know your limits and keep yourself healthy so you can continue to care for your loved one. That may mean admitting you need some time for yourself and asking friends or family for help - or booking respite care a couple of days a week. Having a much-needed break you can look forward to will give you the time you need to feel refreshed and keep your life in order.
Strive for balance:
Do your absolute best to focus on maintaining a reasonable balance, especially if you're acting as a caregiver and holding down a job. Remember that help is available if you need it and that you deserve to continue to live your life and reward yourself for your hard work.
Caregiving can be both rewarding and draining. Learning how to recognize when you need a break, doing your best to take care of yourself, and being willing to accept help will allow you to be the best, most empathetic caregiver you can be.
Need help caring for a loved one?
Book respite care at SecondSenior.