When a family member requires home care, it’s not uncommon for someone in their family or a close friend to become the primary caregiver. There are many situations that warrant a primary caregiver. For example, raising a child with complex medical conditions, caring for a loved one with a chronic condition, or bringing home an aging parent who’s no longer able to live on their own necessitate tools for tackling stress and finding peace of mind.
Home caregivers have many daily responsibilities to juggle. It can be overwhelming if you’re new to it or if you haven’t been able to find a balance between the needs of yourself and your loved one. Here are a few tips to help you make your days as an in-home caregiver run more smoothly.
Having a schedule and sticking to it can be immensely helpful. Sticking to a schedule also plays a critical role if you are tasked with administering medication as a caregiver. Talk to your loved one’s physician about daily or weekly activities that absolutely need to get done. For example, if a dressing at a surgery site needs to be changed or if there’s a daily physical therapy regiment that’s recommended, it’s important that you have these scheduled. Prioritize non-negotiable activities in the schedule. From there, fill in the rest of the day with enriching activities and rest time as you see fit.
Plan your schedule on the Sunday before the week starts. Include meals and meal prep into your weekly planning for both you and your loved one. It helps to make a physical schedule for each day to refer to. Post it in a place where you and your loved one can easily reference it. If you enjoy using your phone or at-home digital assistant, set reminders to help you break up your day.
Although it takes some effort to prepare, schedules can be important for keeping you on track, but also aiding in the mental health of your loved one. For example, you can cut back on the confusion that comes with dementia by keeping a regular schedule.
Once you have your schedule written out for the week, it’s going to look very full, because you have a lot of responsibilities. Despite the number of action items you have on your daily list, it’s very important to take time during the day to destress. Taking time to destress if mentally and physically beneficial for you and the person you’re caring for.
There are so many ways caregivers can destress. For example, take an online yoga or meditation class, draw yourself a hot bath and take a soak, listen to your favorite podcast while you meal prep, or if necessary take a wellness day for yourself. Although caregiving takes up a lot of your time, it shouldn’t become the only focus in your life. Being a primary caregiver can lead to strain on relationships. Make sure you’re putting time in your schedule to nourish yourself and your relationships. Consider joining a support group for primary caregivers, so you have a community of people to talk to who are experiencing similar stressors.
Being the primary caregiver doesn’t mean you have to be the only caregiver. It’s understandable if you’re not ready to dole out all of your caregiving responsibilities. Many caregivers who are taking care of a loved one opt to bring in the support of an in-home care professional to help out every once in a while or with certain tasks.
If you’re taking a wellness day, 24 hour caregivers can ensure that your loved one is safe, healthy, and comfortable while you rest and recharge. Even if you don’t need someone to help out for a long period of time, home care solutions, like senior care services can stop by while you grocery shop or run other errands. There’s no shame in needing extra help sometimes. Utilizing a professional, trusted in-home care service can allow you more flexibility in your schedule, so you can address your own needs.
Caregiver burnout is a very real experience. Of course you love who you’re caring for, but spending extended amounts of time doing any demanding activity can result in mental and physical fatigue. According to a study done on caregiving, some of the signs of caregiver burnout include a feeling disconnected from your family as well as increased fatigue, frustration and stress.
Everyone deserves a real break. Taking a vacation with your family or even just a week off to get some much deserved sleep can be the reset you need to keep moving forward with your caregiving. Respite care is a home care service that allows you an extended break, so you can take care of yourself, while your loved one continues to receive top at-home care. A respite caregiver maintains daily routines and personal preferences. They assist with your loved one’s personal care, meal preparation and even some light housekeeping. They supervise physical activity and will notify you with updates on request or call if there are any concerns.
One of your biggest takeaways should be the importance of taking care of yourself. Carving out time to give care to yourself will make you a better caregiver to your loved one. Prioritize your schedule and consider bringing in extra help from a caregiving service when you need it.
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