Taking care of a loved one in their elder years can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to make the job easier on you and your family. These precautions will not only help reduce your stress levels and ease your burden, they’ll allow you to be a better caregiver as well. And ultimately, this will benefit your patient – a mother, father, grandmother, or grandfather, perhaps. If you currently care for an elder loved one, or are preparing to do so in the near future, you may find these tips helpful.
Elder care demands as much mental stamina as it does physical strength. Put simply, caring for an elder loved one can be emotionally draining – at nearly all times, the experience is trying and difficult. Needless to say, it pays to know what you’re getting into, and reacting appropriately. As with many difficult responsibilities, being flexible and having realistic expectations can put you in the right mindset to provide the care that your loved one needs. Seek out help from support groups like Smart Patients, and find strength in individuals whose experiences match your own.
Make Safety a Priority
Your safety and the safety of your loved one are of the utmost importance. This is obvious and hardly bears mentioning here. But it does raise an interesting question: how can you ensure the safety of your loved one when you’re not there? There are several possible solutions. You may hire help from an outside caregiver while you’re away. Or you may seek help from family or friends (see below for more on this tip). Alternatively, you may seek out a technical solution. Medical alert devices, like the Lively Mobile by GreatCall, can help your loved one feel extra safe while you’re away. How? By enabling them to stay connected with family and friends. Should they suffer a fall or need emergency response services while home alone, a medical alert device can mean the difference between life and death.
Seek Out Assistance
Though you may feel tempted to care for the elder ones in your life all by yourself, you can’t go it alone. At least not entirely. It isn’t practical, feasible, or healthy. If possible, enlist the help of loved ones, or close friends, to help ease your burden. Taking a day off can enable you to recharge your batteries, address your own needs, and reset both physically and mentally, so that you’re prepared to continue caring for a loved one with all that you have to give. If there is nobody in your life available to help, consider looking at volunteers, or finding assistance through programs like At-Home Care & Hospice, orRight at Home.
Set a Routine
Having a solid daily routine can make life much easier for you. It will allow you to knock off your daily tasks efficiently and easily, and will eliminate much of the stress and anxiety that comes from indecision and uncertainty. With a routine in place, your day is already planned for you; all that is required of you is to go through the steps one at a time. Less thinking, more doing, as the saying goes. In other words, you’ll actually be able to focus on your care, rather than distractions like time management, task delineation, and decision making. To set up your own routine quickly and easily, consider task management apps like Todoist and Asana. You will be glad that you did.
Think of your body as a machine. The food that you eat is your body’s fuel. Eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, low-fat proteins, and fibers, and you will find that you have extra strength, stamina, and energy – all of which will make it easier to care for an elder loved one. Eat poorly, and not only will you be making things harder than they have to be, but you may jeopardize your health in the process. Remember, caring for an elder person requires a great deal of energy. It’s likely that at some point in time, you will find yourself feeling physically and mentally overwhelmed. One of the simplest, most effective ways to counter this is to maintain a healthy diet and physical activity regimen.
Don’t be ashamed to take a break from your responsibilities every once in a while. It’s important to remember that if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t be expected to take care of anyone else either. You matter, and you should always make yourself a priority. For your wellbeing and that of your loved one, take breaks whenever possible. Not only is it your right, but it’s in everyone’s best interests – yours, your patient’s, and those around you.