Between caregiver duties for your elderly parents and tending to your own responsibilities, it may feel like you can barely keep your head above water. It’s a common situation faced by caregivers; after all, how can you get help for mom (or any senior) if you feel like you can’t even take care of everything for yourself? Read on for important caregiver tips that can help you stay afloat – and possibly bring unexpected benefits.
Take care of yourself first
You know how flight attendants say to put on your own gas mask first in the event of an emergency? Well, taking care of yourself first can benefit your loved one in the same way. Be sure to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and tend to any medical problems you have as soon as possible. After all, if something happens to you, who will be there for your loved one?
Take advantage of every form of support
Before you place every caregiving burden on yourself, be sure you haven’t exhausted all possible means of support. One of the biggest and most well-known forms is government support. For instance, your loved one may qualify for help from the Veterans Administration. They may also be eligible for financial or medical support from Medicaid – even if they own a house. The latter program can help you in more ways than one, as Medicaid offers respite breaks if caregivers meet certain criteria.
Accept help when it’s offered
Don’t be ashamed to accept offers of help, as well as give suggestions of specific things people can do to assist you. Sometimes people want to help – like provide meals or transportation for your loved one — but are too shy to offer. It’s also possible they don’t know how to effectively help you, but would gladly do so if they knew which tasks to perform.
Learn how to say no
You can’t be all things to all people. Learn how to say no to events and responsibilities you’re not interested in, or those you simply don’t have the time or energy for. This is often easier said than done, since people will sometimes try and pressure you into doing things you’d rather not do.
But willpower is like a muscle that gets stronger with each use, so practice, practice, practice! Besides, those who truly know and understand what you’re going through won’t judge you or make you feel guilty for declining favors.
How many of your caregiving hours are dedicated to rifling through papers, phone numbers, and folders trying to find the information you need? By dedicating just fifteen minutes or half an hour a week to organizing your senior’s medical, legal, and financial information, you can save a lot of time and stress in the long run.
Bring in the professionals
One of the best ways to make caregiving easier on yourself is to delegate some or all of the associated tasks to professionals. There is often no replacement for the relief and peace of mind that comes from having an experienced home health aide or visiting nurse attend to your loved one’s needs.
Seek advice from other caregivers
Remember – you are not alone in your caregiving challenges! Others likely have many more tips and tricks than can be listed here. Seek support from community groups, online caregiving forums, or ask your local nursing homes or home care agencies if they know where you can meet individuals in the same situation.
Get help for mom – it can bring unexpected benefits!
When you get help for mom – or any other senior you’re presently taking care of – it can bring benefits that you never imagined. You may find you have more time to yourself, as well as a better relationship with your parent. The latter is usually due to the fact that you won’t be so stressed out when you’re around them. Finally, your relationship can go back to being based on mutual love and affection, instead of caretaking duties. There’s no time like the present, so get the help you need today – for both of you!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.