Being a caregiver for the elderly can be one of the most difficult jobs in the world, whether it’s your profession or you are doing it for your loved ones. Though at times it can feel extremely rewarding, you have many times when you feel under-appreciated, burnt out and depressed. You have to be in excellent emotional and mental health in order to provide this care and still enjoy your day to day life. Here are ten (10) tips to help you achieve this and create the balance you need in your own life:
- Learn/Know as much as you can about your family member’s/ client’s illness and to enable you to give the best care you can. The more you know, the more effective you’ll be, and the better you’ll feel about your efforts.
- Know your limits. Be realistic about how much of your time and yourself you can give. Set clear limits, and communicate those limits to doctors, family members, and other people involved.
- Accept your feelings. Caregiving can trigger a host of difficult emotions, including anger, fear, resentment, guilt, helplessness, and grief. As long as you don’t compromise the well-being of the care receiver, allow yourself to feel what you feel.
- Confide in others. Talk to people about what you feel; don’t keep your emotions bottled up. Support groups are invaluable for family caregivers, trusted friends, family members and you may also benefit from seeing a therapist or counselor. For professional caregivers sharing and relating experiences with others in your field will ease your stress.
- Take breaks. Caregiving is a job and respite is you’re earned right. Reward yourself with respite breaks often. If it’s your profession schedule your work week to a maximum of 45 hours.
- Be aware of your emotional health. Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
- Accept help. When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do.
- Encourage independence. There’s a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence.
- Be careful physically. Caregivers often do a lot of lifting, pushing, and pulling. Be good to your back, you should not be lifting more than 75lbs/ 34 kg.
- Feel free to grieve. Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams. They may not be who they use to be but once there is life there is hope and opportunity to create beautiful memories.
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