CogHere2Serve
August 11, 2022
Est. Reading: 11 minutes

What are some practical tips for being a family caregiver?

This position is open to anybody who offers substantial assistance to dependent people, ranging from full-time caregivers for aging parents to younger adults balancing their daily lives while caring for a sick spouse. You may be caring for someone as diverse as your spouse, parent, adult kid, sibling, or grandmother.

We'll begin by discussing some practical aspects of care and then go on to the emotional part of caring.

 

Create a 'care team'

When you're caring for a family member or spouse, it's natural to feel as if you have to do everything alone. The reality is that caregiving does not have to be a one-person, all-or-nothing job, and seeking assistance is not a sign of failure; in fact, it is often the most prudent course of action.

You cannot be a superhero, and it is preferable to 'outsource' certain aspects of care rather than providing care that satisfies the requirements of no one. Solicit assistance from relatives and friends. Offer them jobs they are comfortable with and communicate frequently about your career's continuing requirements to ensure everyone is on board.

Many individuals feel angry when other family members are unable – or unwilling – to assist with caregiving — we dedicated a whole article to caregiving and sibling resentment. Another alternative is to hire professional carers who can form a personal connection with the individual you are caring for. Professional caregivers do not have to take the place of your personal care; they may just act as an additional set of hands and operate as a member of your team.

Time management

Time management is all about setting priorities and recognizing that you will never be able to do everything. This is particularly critical if you are caring for someone while working another job. Certain things must be sacrificed, and it helps to prioritize your duties.

Classify your jobs as 'Urgent – cannot wait, 'Important – can wait', or 'Nice to have. This will assist you in determining what has to be done immediately, and if there are several priorities, you may want to consider delegating. Proper planning may instill trust in you while soliciting contributions from other family members.

Oftentimes, it's as simple as learning to differentiate between necessities and desires that will alleviate some of the strain on you. A requirement is much more essential than a desire. While your mother may want for you to reorganize her kitchen, it is much more important if she needs you to fetch her medicine!

Transfer everything from your brain to paper or a productivity tool such as Evernote or Trello. Ticking off finished activities may be a satisfying experience that contributes to a feeling of achievement.

Keep an eye out for burnout

Taking on the role of a caregiver is both physically and emotionally taxing. You're juggling all of this while juggling daily life! All of these expectations will ultimately have an effect.

Burnout is a state of fatigue, tension, and despair that may strike without warning.

Early symptoms of burnout include the following:

Inactivity in social activities

Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activitie

Anxiety and depression

Sleep and appetite changes

Excessive reactivity to small issues

It's ideal if you can identify early warning symptoms and take action before they progress to full-blown burnout.

Symptoms of burnout:

A lack of vitality, regardless matter how much sleep you get

Being ill more often and never feeling 100 percent

Your life is centered on caregiver duties, but you get little pleasure from them.

Difficulty in unwinding

Persistent feelings of powerlessness or anxiety.

You feel yourself becoming more enraged with the individual for whom you are caring.

Never be scared to confess that you're burnt out. Allow yourself some breathing room in order to acquire a more balanced viewpoint. Caregivers often feel terrible for taking time for themselves, yet without it, they would have nothing to offer.

Solicit assistance from family members while you take a break. If this is not an option, try hiring a private caregiver to alleviate some of the strain.

Divide your time into 'chores', 'companion', and 'you' time.

As a family caregiver, you will be responsible for a variety of tasks that will assist your loved one with daily life and continuing treatment. This is often at the expense of 'quality time with them - something you both previously enjoyed.

Even if you must visit daily to attend to the 'chores' of care (e.g. assisting them in getting up, showering, or taking medicine), schedule time to just chat or share a shared interest. Having professional caregivers assist you with the chores may free up more time for you to spend with the person you love.

Make future plans

Caring for someone is a continuous process, and the situation may alter quickly, either immediately or at some time in the future. Even young and healthy individuals may find themselves in circumstances they never anticipated. Without a strategy, pandemonium may ensue.

The main reason individuals fail to prepare ahead is that they struggle to accept the implications of sickness, old age, and even death. They choose to live in denial rather than confronting reality.

Someone who is sick may resist confronting the truth of their increasing reliance on others. Elderly parents may want to avoid the need of making arrangements to enter a nursing facility or drafting a will. One parent may be obstinate about caring about the other, even though they are plainly incapable of doing so. The individual for whom you care may be terrified.

It's about recognizing the strong emotions at work and resolving the issue with as much tact as possible. Certain discussions are challenging, but your life (and theirs) will be much more difficult if they do not have their affairs in order or their desires are unknown.

Discuss someone else in a similar position (this may even be a character on television) and inquire as to what your loved one would like to happen.

Consider the following strategies:

Commence planning as soon as feasible. Mention that you are creating a will and ask whether your career would want assistance in doing so as well.

Consult an attorney jointly. Your relative may be more open to expert counsel. Obtaining guidance is critical when it comes to establishing a Power of Attorney and determining what will happen if your loved one is unable to manage their own affairs.

Identify potential support networks

Maintaining social networks is critical for your personal health and well-being, as well as providing you with the energy to continue caring.

Unfortunately, caregivers are particularly vulnerable to social isolation. They lack the time and energy to keep up with their pals since their days are spent caring for others. Alternatively, their acquaintances do not comprehend their predicament, and caregivers are at a loss for topics to discuss. It's a difficult position to be in.

It's important to continue communicating with people about your experiences, even more so when you're truly suffering - even though this is usually the moment you want to isolate yourself the most! If you have friends that are incapable of understanding or empathizing, spend your time with them to unwind and reflect on the other important aspects of your life. Normalcy will provide you with stability and perspective.

Online support networks may also be lifesavers, particularly if you lack relatable friends or family members. Care communities are always only a few clicks away on your smartphone, thanks to the advancement of contemporary technology. The following is a list of some of the most popular caregiver forums in the United Kingdom:

Carers United Kingdom

Discussion Point (for dementia)

Forum on Dementia

My Parent Is Aging

Additionally, there are many condition-specific support groups and forums for family members and caregivers. Simply do a Google search for your particular ailment followed by the term "forum."

Numerous organizations also offer support networks, ranging from forums to local groups – complete with frequent in-person meetings if you want!

Age Concern United Kingdom

Parkinson's Disease UK

Macmillan

Numerous individuals have experienced an improvement in well-being as a result of interacting with other caregivers. It has shown to them that they are not alone and has aided them in making sense of what is occurring. Other caregivers may provide important advice and suggestions based on their own experiences. They relate to your experiences and reassure you that you are not alone.

You may connect with people in very similar situations or just browse the discussion threads for assistance in addressing concerns and answering inquiries.

Discuss with your employer the possibility of becoming a caregiver for a family member.

Your job or career may suffer as a result of your caring duties, resulting in conflict at work and financial strain.

According to a 2015 government study, more than a third of people juggling work and care contemplated quitting their careers in favor of part-time employment. Women (who account for the majority of main carers) may be limited to low-wage part-time employment in order to balance their care obligations. This may put them in financial difficulty and add to their stress.

It may be very tough to request time off when you are unsure of your employer's support. It seems more socially acceptable to request leave to care for a sick kid than it does to accompany your father to his doctor's visit. If you need to take time off to care for dependents, it is critical that you be aware of your rights.

Even if you do not anticipate taking time off work, it is still worth communicating with your employer. There will be days when you are not as resilient as normal, and you just will not be able to give your best every time. If your boss is aware of other events, he or she will be able to contextualize this. They may possibly be able to assist you.

 

Be cautious of the strain this may cause in your relationships.

Caregiving duties place a tremendous strain on all of your relationships. Even the best ones may be challenging, as those receiving care often vent their frustrations about being sick or reliant on those closest to them.

Caring will not resolve any problems you have with the individual you are caring for, despite your hopes. Unfortunately, they may not spontaneously express gratitude for all you've done or show you the love and respect you've been expecting for.

Siblings taking shared care of parents often results in anger, resurfacing long-buried family problems. Your other relationships may suffer as you spend more time caring for others and less time with your spouse or children.

It is entirely natural to have tension in your interactions. It's a difficult circumstance for everyone, but keep in mind that most people are doing their best. Even if the care receiver has done something incorrectly, it is unreasonable to expect them to rectify the situation at this stage of their lives, particularly if they are dealing with cognitive limitations.

Take a break from those who are causing you distress. Approach the issue logically and with the goal of achieving the best result possible for your caree. Accept that individuals are unlikely to change.

Recognize the distressing feelings

Caregivers often place tremendous pressure on themselves to always feel compassionate. This is irrational and has a detrimental effect on your self-esteem if you are unable to live up to your own standards. As long as you are not purposefully taking it out on the person for whom you are caring, you have the freedom to feel whatever you want.

When you are caring for someone you adore, you will not always feel joyful, generous, or compassionate. At times, you may even despise the person for whom you are caring.

 

Caring for dementia patients may be extremely challenging owing to the behavioral difficulties (especially if they stop remembering you). Someone's intransigence and irrationality may be very irritating, even when you understand they are being driven by their illness. You may be through significant personality changes and feel as though you no longer recognize this individual. They may even become abusive in their treatment of you.

Taking care of your parent entails looking after someone who is used to looking after you rather than the other way around. You may have feelings of betrayal or rage. Accepting your anger and yelling at someone you care about may result in strong feelings of guilt.

You may experience feelings that are more widely acknowledged, such as:

Stress

Sadness

Guilt

Concern

However, there are also less 'acceptable' emotions, such as:

Anger

Impatience

Resentment

Bear in mind that although all feelings are legitimate, you are not obligated to act on them. Sometimes just recognizing your emotions is sufficient to free you from their clutches. Discuss your emotions with a trusted confidante or a professional.

Always consider the context of your emotions and the lessons that may be gleaned from the event. Allow yourself to be imperfect and acknowledge the wonderful things you have done.

Acknowledge your guilt

Caregiver guilt is a very real occurrence that has a negative impact on your self-esteem, well-being, and capacity to deal with life in general.

If you experience guilt, it indicates that you believe you are failing to live up to some ideal, whether it is a self-imposed standard or external expectations. You may be doing all possible to help the person for whom you are caring, yet the guilt persists.

Guilt may result from a variety of circumstances, including the following:

Inadequate time for care

Due to care duties, you are unable to provide your best at work.

Being insufficiently patient with your caree

Neglecting other relationships in order to focus on caring

It's quite natural to feel angry about what you're giving up, particularly if you feel taken advantage of. Additionally, it is very common for these ideas to be followed by emotions of shame and self-loathing for thinking in this manner!

Guilt is exhausting and ineffective, yet it may be almost difficult to overcome.

Take the following steps:

Recognize the distressing feelings

Discuss it with a third party who is objective to assist you in gaining perspective.

Remind yourself of all the positive accomplishments you've made.

Adjusts your self-esteem expectations to be more realistic

Above all, be nice to yourself!

Demonstrate appreciation

It may seem odd, but thankfulness has been shown to significantly enhance one's viewpoint. It is not about being unreasonably joyful, but about finding something to enjoy in every circumstance.

Developing an attitude of appreciation is not always simple, and you should not berate yourself if you first struggle. It's natural to concentrate on the negative aspects of a situation, particularly if you're exhausted and worried.

Even though finding reasons to be thankful is amusing, consider the following:

All the qualities you like about the individual for whom you are caring

You want to repay them for the attention they may have provided you in the past.

 

The pleasant moments you've spent together 

The little victories, such as being on time for your doctor's appointment or finding a wonderful new professional caregiver to assist you

Allow for self-care.

Self-care is just as important as giving care for others. You cannot be a competent caregiver if you are always tired and angry, even though it may seem self-indulgent to schedule time for yourself.

You must see self-care in terms of allowing you to continue caring for your loved one in the long run. If you ignore yourself, you will burn out much faster.

Self-care techniques include the following: 

Ascertain that you get adequate sleep (most people need around eight hours a night)

Maintain positive personal connections.

Speak with someone who is an excellent listener.

Make time for your favorite hobbies, even if it's only 10 minutes a day reading a book.

Allow yourself to be pampered in little ways, such as taking a bath or receiving a massage.

Maintain your sense of humour at all costs - many carers report that this helps them get through difficult situations.

 

Conclusion

This ends our article on how to cope with family caregiving duties. There is much more information available, but we hope this helps you get started on resolving some of the most pressing problems you may be facing.

In general, try to be realistic about the amount of time you have to devote to care. Approach this circumstance with an open mind, cognizant of the magnitude of the job and the sacrifices required. Never be hesitant to seek assistance (whether practical or emotional), and avoid beating yourself up if you believe something has gone wrong.

Bear in mind that you are doing an amazing act for someone else. It may be a difficult road, but you will never regret taking on the responsibility of caring for someone.

Appreciate and congratulate yourself, keeping in mind your strength.

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