Caregiving is something that many thousands of families do for their loved ones. It can be for a lot of different reasons. Perhaps somebody is too old to care for themselves due to ill health. Maybe a family member was born with severe mental and/or physical health problems. Perhaps they had a car accident and lost a leg or an arm.
Caregiving is an enormous responsibility and, if it can be shared among various household members, this helps enormously. Here are some tips to help family caregivers do the best job possible.
If the entire family commits to pitching in to look after their grandmother, who is elderly and can’t care for herself anymore, the first step is to have a family meeting and discuss everything that needs to happen. Someone should have gathered information on the subject from numerous sources, so they can read and learn about what they might be expected to do, and how they are supposed to do it.
It is critical that the loved one who needs the care is involved in this ‘meeting’ if they can possibly do so. The family needs reminding that grandma can still do lots of things for herself, as an example, so her independence should also be taken into consideration when discussing her needs.
Perhaps grandma needs to be showered and dressed; in this case, a female family member is the most likely candidate for this task. However, if grandma also needs to be physically moved around, then a male member of the household would need to get involved as well.
The family should make a list of the tasks that grandma needs help with. Apart from the personal stuff already mentioned, this may also include going to doctor’s appointments and helping her take the right medications and doses at the correct times. Other activities may include driving her to visit friends, and staying with her in case she needs help while being away from home.
It is essential that caregivers talk about their feelings amongst themselves. Perhaps a younger family member could feel a bit of resentment at having to care for an older, infirm loved one. They shouldn’t bottle up these feelings, because this is unhealthy and can cause further problems down the track.
One fact that comes out in many caregivers is that sometimes they forget to look after themselves. Caregiving can be overwhelming, especially if it’s one person doing it on their own. This is just one of the reasons why caregivers should share the responsibility and tasks associated with caring for the loved one.
In order to do this, the caregiver(s) should eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep and rest, exercise regularly, socialize with friends and do whatever else they enjoy doing. These will all help the caregiver cope much easier with the somewhat onerous and challenging task of looking after the loved one.
Having an entire family care for a loved one reduces the amount of stress on each person that is involved. It is common for the most loving family members to try and manage the caregiving on their own, but if other family members are available, regardless of whether they live in the same house or have to travel to offer support, it’s essential for the sanity of the primary caregiver to ask for family help as much as possible.
Caring for a loved one is perhaps the single greatest act of kindness a caregiver could do, and the job should never be shrugged off or only half-done.