10 Essential Tips for Caregiving

You may not even realize it but chances are if you are over 50 years old, you have assumed the role of “caregiver” in some capacity.  Whether it be for a family member, friend, or neighbor, you may be called on to drive someone to a medical appointment or you may need to help prepare someone’s daily meals and ensure that they take their medications.  Take a moment to review the tips below and keep them in mind as you care for your loved one!

  1. Be patient and understanding.  It may be that your parent needs to give up the car keys or have someone come in to help them.  If they need to move from their beloved home, it’s not so much the change of setting but that they feel they are giving up their independence and life as it was. Take care that you don’t become a dictator when someone you love is going through a transition.
  2. The majority of people I speak to tell me they don’t want to leave their home.  Finding a Village Movement can help them remain at home for as long as possible.  The Village concept is spreading all over the country , Village-to-Village (VTV).  The concept is a not for profit membership organization providing many resources essential to staying in the home such as home modifications, transportation, social activities and much more.
  3. There are 42 million people who try to balance career and caregiving.  Are you one of these many people that don’t recognize themselves as caregivers and so you don’t think about where to go for resources?  It could be as simple as going to your HR department.  They may be able to provide flexible hours and give you information on where else to turn for help.
  4. When you can’t be around do you have a reliable back up who can let you know if they suspect something is wrong?  You may live around the corner from your loved one or on the other end of the country.  Either way, you can’t be with your loved one all of the time.  Give a reliable neighbor or someone who is in contact regularly with your loved one your phone number in case they realize that something just isn’t right.
  5. You may need to hire a caregiver.  Go to a reliable source for recommendations; not Craigslist.  Two agencies that certify reliable agencies are ABHC & CAHSAH:American Board of Home Care (www.americanboardofhomecare.org)
    California Association for Health Services at Home (www.cahsah.org)
  6. How will you finance the care?  Do you or your loved one have long-term care insurance?  Quitting your job to care for a loved one can cost you much more than you would ever imagine.
  7. Use technology to help you keep track of your loved one.  There are GPS tracking devices (PERS) that can locate your loved one at any time to be sure they are safe.  The Jitterbug is a mobile phone which can be used for phone calling but also offers 24/7 emergency response.
  8. A parent who is forced to stop driving will feel as though they’ve suffered a huge loss of their independence.  Although they may not be the one behind the wheel, that doesn’t mean they have to be stuck at home.  They can still get out and stay active since there are many services available that provide transportation.  There are services that just pick you up but don’t offer any assistance.  Then there are those that can schedule a caregiver or companion to remain with your loved one during the entire outing (trip to/from the grocery store).
  9. Try not to let caregiving stress you out.  So many people I talk to tell me they are depressed and exhausted.   There have been several studies on the benefits of laughter.  Sherri Snelling wrote an article titled Why Laughter Is Crucial for Caregivers and she states  “some other proven health benefits of laughter include the relief of stress and its byproducts, such as inflammation and the chronic conditions that stem from it; lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and elevated ‘good’ cholesterol; increased elasticity of blood vessels; higher oxygen levels in the blood; improved cardiovascular function; and decreased pain, particularly in people undergoing chemotherapy, because of the distraction humor provides. Humor also encourages social interaction and well-being: Isolation, and the health problems it can fuel, are common health concerns for caregivers and the loved ones they aid.”
    http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2012-11/why-laughter-crucial-caregivers
  10. Call us at Love 2 Live to schedule an in-home assessment where we can sit down and discuss all the ways we can help ensure that your loved one is safe and happy.  Love 2 Live caregivers are able to provide: transportation, light housekeeping and laundry, meal planning and preparation, personal care (bathing, dressing, incontinence), medication reminders, companionship, and more.  We continually communicate with our clients and caregivers to ensure the schedule and care relationship is working well for everyone.