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By Mike Clark
Taking care of the elderly is an honorable duty. One that is both challenging and rewarding. Becoming a caregiver for an elderly person, whether it is a relative or you are a paid caregiver can be stressful at times. It is so important that you take the time to care for yourself while you take care of them. According to new research by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, it is estimated that nearly 53 million adults in America provide unpaid care to an elderly person. The duties of caregivers can vary depending on the needs of the senior, from light housekeeping to more involved daily personal care, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding.
What You Need to Know
When you become a caregiver, there are some things that would be useful for you to know. It is important for you to know what to expect when becoming a caregiver for the first time or if you are an experienced caregiver. Each case is different and brings on its unique challenges, stresses, and difficulties. You want the seniors to have the very best experience they can have while under your care, so learning how to deal with the ups and downs of caregiving is essential to making this happen.
Make a Plan
Making a care plan is the most important thing you can do when caring for an elderly person. What are their needs? What will you be doing for them to meet those needs? You need to be as specific as you can in designing the plan. A good example would be: if you are taking them to a doctor’s appointment – Do you go back with them? – Do you need to help them understand their instructions from the doctor? – Do you need to write the instructions down for family members or additional caregivers? – Do you just wait in the waiting room for them to finish? When helping with meal planning make sure you involve your senior in the decision-making process. Think about preparation and clean-up when planning their meals for the week. Many elderly folks are uncomfortable having these discussions but it is very important to keep them involved in their care decisions so they still feel they have a role to play in their daily lives.
Keep Things Flexible
Making a care schedule is part of the process of caring for a senior. Keep your schedule flexible but make sure that everything is covered for each care day. Deciding on the types of care that your senior needs each day are important. What happens on what days, what time, and how long each one takes are very important for both the caregiver and the senior. If your senior has a cognitive impairment such as dementia and/or Alzheimer’s then having a set routine is especially important. Sometimes dealing with seniors with these issues, flexibility is a must, even though set routines are the best thing for them and the caregiver. Sometimes dealing with these issues the senior can be stubborn and take a lot longer to complete the task than usual. Patience is always important when caring for a senior with cognitive issues.
Sometimes a new in-home caregiver can face difficult situations with the senior they are caring for. If the person you are caring for is a relative like a parent or a grandparent then it can become difficult to set aside your previous relationship and step into the role of the caregiver that is in charge. In these situations, it is vital to discuss with the senior and other family members your role as a caregiver and what has to be done. You should have these discussions during the planning process to make sure everyone is on the same page. This way you as the caregiver can always refer back to the care plan as to what was agreed upon at the beginning of the process.
Taking care of a relative can strain relationships with siblings and other family members. This can bring up hidden emotions and feelings and can exacerbate difficult relationships. If you are concerned that this could occur to your family it is important to have as many parties as possible agree on the care plan in advance to prevent problems down the road.
Caregivers Need to Take Time for Themselves
It is vital that you take care of yourself as an in-home caregiver. Providing in-home care to a patient is emotionally draining. This becomes especially evident as the patient declines during the process of providing care over a prolonged period of time. You as the caregiver, whether caring for a relative or another patient, become emotionally attached to the patient. It is important to work through the stress and complicated emotions, whether it’s talking to a mental health professional or finding other ways to deal with the stress associated with providing in-home care.
Helping your elderly patient get out of bed, bathing them, helping them in and out of chairs, can be physically demanding as well. You need to make sure you use proper techniques with lifting and assisting them. You also need to keep yourself physically fit and keep your strength up by exercising and stretching, eating well, and getting enough sleep.
Know When to Ask for Help
It is extremely important when caring for someone that is elderly to ask for help when you need it. Their care is your responsibility and that doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself all the time with no assistance or breaks. Your health and well-being are very important to continue to provide care for the senior. The senior needs you to be at your best while providing care for them, so when the stress and physical demands get to you, ask for help. Know when to ask for help.
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Dwell at Home is not a licensed medical professional and all information provided is provided “as is” with no warranties. You should consult a licensed physician for any questions related to your health. Dwell at Home makes no guarantee about any application or third-party website mentioned in any article on this website.