Helpful Tips for Caregivers
As we continue to live longer, it’s common for family members or loved ones to become caregivers. Caregiving comes in many forms, from running simple errands and housekeeping to full around-the-clock support. Either way, over time caregiving can be exhausting and can bring up many complex emotions. Remember, it’s equally important for caregivers to take care of themselves as well as the person they are supporting. Here is a list of helpful tips and resources aimed at helping caregivers manage stress, overcome fatigue and avoid burn out:
Have a caregiving plan of action
A well-organized caregiving plan can save you loads of stress and anxiety. Think of the plan like a playbook–a set of documents that covers everything from daily routine and medication lists to contact information for medical providers and family members or friends. It can also be quite helpful to learn about and document information related to the specific illness or situation. Keep this information in a binder and make sure all involved in the caregiving process know where to find it. This not only helps with keeping everything well arranged, it can provide peace of mind to the caregivers. Remember, caregiving often requires additional help, so setting up a plan and having all pertinent information available for your support system can be a real blessing for all involved.
Find your own support
No matter how organized or dedicated a caregiver may be, caregiving can be a heavy burden and take a massive toll over time. It’s crucial for caregivers to find their own support and stress relief. This may take the form of a support group, your place of worship, an online community or your own personal network of family and friends. Be sure to find healthy ways to express your emotions and be willing to accept help for yourself. Remember, your health and well-being are just as important as those you’re supporting.
Tap local resources
In many instances, there may be additional local resources available to caregivers and their families through public services and programs. Programs range from financial assistance, food delivery, organizations providing respite services and transportation services. Some states have local area agencies on aging (AAA) that may offer additional support and information on available services—try using search engines to find these local programs or organizations. Also ask your health providers, human services and senior care workers for further details and contacts. Resources are indeed out there–don’t be afraid to dig around to find them.
Don’t fall into the guilt trap
At some point or another, it’s typical for a caregiver to feel guilty for spending time away or focusing on themselves. Though this might appear to be a noble emotion, it can be quite harmful. Spending time on yourself, enjoying your hobbies or personal activities is a great stress reliever and crucial coping mechanism. Be sure to continue your work outs, healthy diet and social life—anything part of your normal healthy routine. If your typical entertainment activities do not appeal to you anymore or if you’re feeling less social or completely worn down, speak to your primary care provider as these may be signs of depression.
Additional family caregiving resources:
- Family Caregiver Alliance – National Center on Caregiving
- Advocating for Aging and Disability Services
- Aging Resources of Central Iowa
- Caregiving Support and help
- Preventing Burnout
- Caregiving Resource Center
- Online Caregiving Community