Caring for an aging loved one typically starts off with simple, occasional assistance, though as time goes on and responsibilities increase, the stress of caregiving can be overwhelming at times.
While caregiving and helping loved ones age comfortably can be incredibly rewarding, it can require quite a great deal of time and flexibility. Between a lack of personal time and privacy, changes in family dynamics, the financial burden and mental and emotional stress, caregivers often face an array of challenges.
According to a 2015 joint research study between the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, approximately 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. At SameAddress, we recognize that many caregivers can be overwhelmed by their newfound responsibilities, and offer personalized respite care plans and educational adult care resources to provide relief.
If you’re struggling with the challenges and day-to-day stress of caregiving, below are 8 tips to help you become an effective, nurturing caregiver, while maintaining your own personal health in the process.
1. Save Time For Yourself
It’s tough to be a great caregiver if your own physical and emotional needs aren’t being met. Especially for caregivers working on a full-time basis, it’s easy to neglect your own needs, though it’s important to maintain your own well being for both yourself and the individual you’re caring for.
If you feel like you don’t have any time for yourself anymore, consider asking a family member or friend to provide care at times, or look into respite care plans for consistent relief.
2. Get Organized
Strong organization is one of the main ways to manage the stress of caregiving. There usually isn’t enough time in the day to complete all caregiving tasks and personal responsibilities, so tools like to-do lists, calendars and reminders can be a great help with prioritizing and organization. For caregivers managing financial, healthcare, legal or other information for a loved one, setting up a well-organized folder system can save significant time and energy.
3. Don’t Ignore Sleep Deprivation
As adults age, the time it takes to fall asleep increases, sleep interruptions are more common and sleep disorders become more prevalent. However, just because sleeping is more difficult for older adults doesn’t mean it has to be a challenge for caregivers too.
For caregivers that tend to loved ones overnight, it’s important to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Whether that means you need to get help with overnight care, regularly exercise, get more sunlight exposure, alter your diet or meditate before bed to de-stress, make sure sleep is a priority.
4. Focus On What You Can Control
One of the biggest challenges of caregiving is accepting that many things are out of your control. Bad days will inevitably happen and the health of the loved one you’re caring for may deteriorate over time, but rather than feeling guilty, focus instead on what you can control and how much you have been able to help someone you love.
5. Encourage Independence
Caregiving does not mean providing anything and everything for your loved one. Waiting on them for all hours of the day will foster dependence rather than help them to live comfortably and independently.
Whether you need to look into technologies or tools to support their cognitive skills or encourage them to take on minor physical tasks, promoting independence is a crucial component of providing good care. Be prepared to simply say “no” to tasks that they are capable of doing on their own and remember that you’re not doing your loved one any favors by over-providing care.
6. Avoid Illness
Coupled with the health problems and weaker immune systems of older adults, the high stress of caregiving and the sleep deprivation it can cause can leave caregivers very vulnerable to sickness. Especially when the adult being cared for is sick, be prepared to frequently wash your hands and sanitize the living space of your loved one.
To fight illness on a daily basis, caregivers should do their best to maintain a healthy diet and consistent exercise routine, and be sure to get ample sleep.
7. Plan Your Relief
When you finally get a few hours to yourself, do you have a plan for what you’ll do? Capitalize on the free time you have by setting up a plan for meeting your personal needs and wants.
Additionally, if a professional caregiver is taking over for a period of time, it can be a tough conversation to let a loved one know that someone else will be temporarily caring for them while you get a break. Be clear, honest and upfront about the situation, and ensure that your loved one is comfortable with the new caregiver that will be taking care of them.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
It’s easy to feel like you’re alone when dealing with the stress of caregiving, but know that help resources are available to you. Whether you need to talk to other caregivers who understand what you’re dealing with or seek out family members or friends to help share the caregiving burden, finding a support network is important.
For routine care services that can ease the burden of caregiving, SameAddress offers personalized respite care plans. Whether you need occasional support for a temporary break or comprehensive, full-time care, SameAddress can provide a professional, cost-effective care plan unique to you and your loved one’s needs.
Using the tips above, you should be able to better manage the stress of caregiving, but it’s no secret that you may still be overwhelmed times.
For personalized respite and in-home care plans that will provide your loved one with excellent, cost-effective care and provide you relief and peace of mind, contact SameAddress at 1-866-SENIOR-1 (1-866-736-4671) or on our website.