Caring for a loved one who is ill can be a difficult task. Often, caregivers are forced to give up their jobs, hobbies or other interests because someone they love needs care. And while it’s a task that most are happy to perform, it can get strenuous.
We’ve compiled some tips if you are a caregiver. Whether short-term or long-term care is needed, try including some of these tips in your daily or weekly routine.
Know your limitations. As a caregiver for someone who is ill, there are many things you can do to help – feeding, bathing and talking to your loved one are a few. But recognize that there will be times that your loved one needs more. Never try to give medical care without the supervision of a doctor. Don’t try to move a loved one if your back is not strong enough – you could end up hurting both of you. And realize that there may come a time when the help of an in-home nurse or hospice may be required.
- Take a little time for yourself. Everyone needs to recharge his or her batteries, especially caregivers. However, it can be difficult to take time to see a movie while your loved one is at home. But it’s important that even the most vigilant of caregivers have a little time to themselves. Whether you go into another room to read a book, go for coffee with a friend while a relative stays with your loved one or fit in a trip to the gym to keep yourself healthy, try to take a little time each day for yourself. It will help you be a better caregiver to your loved one.
- Talk. It can be difficult to talk about the future with a loved one who may be on the decline, but it’s important. If the person you’re caring for only has a little time left, it’s important to help him or her make sure their affairs are in order. This may include hiring a lawyer to draw up a will, obtaining access to passwords for accounts or finding out where important documents are. Being organized can make the inevitable a little more bearable. Additionally, discuss your loved one’s wishes. Discussing funeral arrangements before someone has died may seem morbid, but it can help you get a sense of what your loved one wants – and doesn’t.
- Enlist the help of friends or family. Many times, people will ask what they can do to help. Instead of replying with, “Oh nothing,” take them up on their offer. If a friend offers to stay with your loved one for a few hours one night, it can give you a much-needed break and also may be a good opportunity for your friend to have some special time with your loved one. Let a relative go to the grocery store for you or pick up your dry cleaning. People want to help, and getting certain tasks off your plate can make you a better caregiver.
- Share some memories. Even if your loved one isn’t able to talk or remember much, looking through old photos, reading old letters or sharing stories of happier times can brighten their day – and yours. And while the person you’re caring for may not be able to take more adventures, they can get pleasure from remembering past ones.
While caring for a sick loved one can be an emotional, trying time, it also has its happy moments. Enjoy the time you have left with your loved one, take care of yourself and know that the care you’re providing is appreciated.
The Brookwood Baptist Health Library has more information for caregivers:
- Caregivers Need to Care for Themselves
- Alzheimer’s Caregivers Need Care Too
- Older Caregiver’s At Risk for Cognitive Decline
Your health is too important to leave to chance. Let us help you find the physician that’s right for you.