Practical Tips for Family Caregiving

 

Former first lady Rosalyn Carter said there are only 4 kinds of people in the world:

Those who have been caregivers

Those who are currently caregivers

Those who will be caregivers

And those who will need caregivers.

You are likely to have the opportunity of being a caregiver for an elderly relative such as parents or for a spouse.

Many caregivers begin with the best of intentions to do everything themselves. After all, they are family.   

It may not be long before you are approaching burnout. Caregiving tasks start simple, providing meals, running errands, fixing things around the house. They gradually increase and may include going to doctor appointments, managing the medications, paying the bills and balancing the checkbook.

Be aware of the demand; caregivers average 45 hours a week. Be careful not to allow the demand to get you isolated. Social connections is important for your well being.

Isolation can creep up on you. Caregiving needs increase so you leave work to be the caregiver. (This just happened at my husband’s office – a fellow worker left to be the caregiver for his dad.) Often our social circle is built around our work. When you leave work, you have left your ‘regular’ socializing.

Between 40-70% of family caregivers experience clinical depression, which can be caused by feelings of isolation and loneliness associated with caregiving. Remember how important it was when raising a family, you took time for you. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have anything left to take care of other people.

Here is the first of 3 tips to take care of you and help you be a better caregiver.

Tip 1 Find a support group

There are several resources of support groups for spouses or elder care. Connecting with other caregivers can provide emotional support. You may also learn new tricks and tips to make your caregiving job easier.

You can join a support group on-line or in person. More than 25% of caregivers seek support as they begin the task. By the end of the first year of the challenge, half of the caregivers have turned to support groups.

Resources:

In-person support groups:

Well Spouse Association a national organization made up of spousal caregivers coping with a broad range of medical conditions.

Eldercare.gov offers resources for free caregiver counseling and support groups.

 

Online support groups:

AgingCare.com has a section on their site where you can connect with elder-care experts and family caregivers.

Caring.com offers caregiving tips, advice and support.

Family Caregiver Alliance Caregivers can share, interact and learn from each other.

Take time to refresh yourself. Don’t lose sight of your friends – make time for them. Do things you enjoy – hiking, sports, reading, cooking. You might find new friends if you take a Community Ed class or join a group on Meetup.com.

Check in next week for Tips 2 and 3 of caregiver survival.

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