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Seven Tips for Caregivers

4/30/2020 8:49:59 AM

Caregivers are well-acquainted with guilt, self-doubt, conflict, and exhaustion. Their days are characterized with highs and lows, dilemmas and predicaments, anxiety and resolve. It’s an emotional roller coaster that requires tremendous strength of character and devotion. It’s not all doom and gloom, but there is a reason we spend so much time talking about caregiver stress.  

What is caregiver stress? 
Caregiver stress is the physical and emotional strain that come with providing prolonged or continuous care for a loved-one.  It can lead to anxiety, depression, a compromised immune system, digestive issues, addiction or increased risk for chronic diseases.  To summarize, the effects of caregiver stress can be detrimental and far-reaching.

We hope you'll find the seven caregiver tips below helpful considerations as you work to take care of your loved one and yourself.  

1. LEARN about your loved one’s condition
Being in the know will help to reduce stress and fear. Learn everything you can by consulting with physicians, visiting your local library and becoming acquainted with community resources.

2. PLAN ahead
Once you have educated yourself about your loved one’s condition, devise a plan that includes choosing potential healthcare providers in advance, preparing advance directives, and getting financial and legal affairs in order.

3. PRACTICE self-care
Taking care of yourself makes it possible for you to continue to be a caregiver to your loved one. Capable caregivers find the time to eat right, exercise, sleep and even schedule daily quiet time for relaxation, mediation or prayer.

4. CELEBRATE moments & make memories
Embrace the chance to live in the moment and enjoy your loved one when opportunities for laughter and intimacy present.  Allowing yourself to enjoy those moments as they unfold can go a long away in alleviating stress.

5. KNOW that you will make mistakes 
Making mistakes opens up the possibility of finding a better way to do things. At the end of the day, it won’t be the mistakes that matter. What matters is your willingness to keep putting one step in front of the other as you continue to care for your loved one.

6. TRY NOT to be a control freak
Trying to control every aspect of care will prove impossible for you and also work to alienate those willing to help. Folks will be less likely to help if you micromanage or bark orders.

7. ASK for help
You can do anything, but not everything. The next time a well-meaning neighbor, friend or family member asked what they can do to help, tell them. Make a list of chores that you could use help with and share the load.

To learn more about the causes of caregiver stress which can lead to caregiver burnout, please visit https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9225-caregiver-burnout.

Being a caregiver is truly a labor of love. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, consider hiring a reputable private duty home care agency to help or explore the possibility of a respite stay at a local assisted living or long-term care community.