Caregiving at home presents challenges that others wouldn’t face and may not understand.
You’re balancing dealing with personal relationships along with taking on the important responsibilities of overseeing your loved one’s health. You’re not alone. AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that 53 million Americans are currently family caregivers. The study showed that family caregivers are facing difficult challenges maintaining their own health while caring for their loved ones.
From managing the care of your loved one, to taking care of yourself, here are some of the best ways to navigate the challenges of caregiving at home.
How to Provide the Best Care
Manage Family Relationships
As you balance both personal relationships and a professional level of care, each person’s feelings and point of view can complicate everyday decisions. The best way to manage these relationships is to establish basic communications and expectations.
Set aside dedicated time for you and your family members involved in the care of your loved one. Establish ground rules that will help you manage care on an ongoing basis and open the lines of communication for everyone involved. This could include deciding who is responsible for what tasks, establishing how information is communicated among those involved, being open about each of your own needs, and being willing to seek outside support when needed.
Follow Doctors’ Advice
Rely on doctors and ask questions when you need it. Set up systems for keeping track of each doctor’s contact information, as well as your loved one’s medicines, appointments, treatments, therapy, etc. The professionals will advise on your loved one’s health. Your job is to speak up for your loved one and ask questions when you need to.
If you don’t feel like you can trust the professionals, seek additional opinions and try other doctors until you feel more comfortable. This will ensure your loved one gets the medical attention they need.
Without structure, home caregiving can feel chaotic. If there is uncertainty for your loved one surrounding eating, drinking, resting, and getting movement, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by each small task.
Create consistency around your loved one’s daily needs and routines. To make your loved one more comfortable and your own day easier, make sure the basics are covered, such as what and when they eat, how they get physical activity, their hygiene, and when they sleep.
It may help to keep a journal of these daily activities to track what works best. From there, you can be sure to incorporate optimal conditions, such as always having their favorite foods and ensuring they have a relaxing routine before bed.
Fearing your loved one’s movement throughout the home can cause constant stress. Make it a priority to give them the proper equipment to maintain as much independence as possible. From using a walker, to clearing clutter, to making the shower more accessible, there are a range of safety precautions you can create within the home.
In addition to changing the physical surroundings, enlist the help you need to look after your loved one properly. Providing them with the right amount of supervision and independence can help you both feel less fear and stress.
How to Navigate Personal Challenges
Don’t be afraid to step away from your duties as a caregiver and seek your own support when needed. You need time to live your life. Find ways to spend time with other people you care about, join a support group, see a therapist, or find other ways to broaden your perspective to show yourself that you’re not alone. Allow yourself to experience all facets of your life, rather than solely serving as a caregiver.
Use simple methods to manage your stress so that you can maintain your peace of mind on a daily basis. This could involve simply taking a moment for yourself for some deep breaths, checking in with how you’re feeling, and releasing your emotions. Sometimes, hobbies or even going for a walk can help you clear your mind of your daily responsibilities so that you can process how you’re feeling.
Set Healthy Boundaries
To maintain your own wellbeing, it helps to set healthy boundaries. Say no to things you can’t do, and instead ask for help in those areas. From resources such as books, to professional services, there are many forms of support available.
You can only take full responsibility for yourself and your actions. The responsibilities to care for your loved one should be shared, whether that’s with professionals who can help, family, friends, or all of the above.
Take Care of Your Own Health
Focus on your own basic needs and give yourself the same quality of care you try to provide to your loved one. Eat nourishing foods, stay hydrated, incorporate physical movement, and try to get consistent rest.
This will give you a solid foundation to work from. If you don’t feel well, see your doctor and take care of your needs. Keep up on regular medical visits as well to maintain your best health. You don’t want to lose sight of your own condition by fully immersing yourself in the health of the person you care for.
Support for Caregivers
The Kensington White Plains has various resources to help caregivers. Kensington Konnect is a hub of informative, entertaining, and fun resources for caregivers, seniors, and families. It includes how-to videos, articles, online classes, virtual tours, concerts, and more.
If being a home caregiver is becoming too big of a challenge, it may be time to consider the resources available at The Kensington White Plains. If you or someone you know needs help caring for a loved one, we can serve as your partner in the transition to assisted living or memory care. Give us a call today to learn more.
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