Caregiving A to Z
One can’t help but wonder how the first caregiver ever managed to cope, but fortunately there is now a wealth of knowledge and experiences that new caregivers can draw from. As a matter of fact, the first things you should if thrust upon a caregiving situation are:
- Learn as much as you possibly can about your relative’s condition, and
- Connect with other, more experienced caregivers.
At the same time, you should follow your own instincts and be aware of your limitations. Just because other caregivers before you did something doesn’t mean you can/should do it as well. In fact, the next piece of advice is to refrain from assuming each and every responsibility by yourself. Whether or not you realize it, there may several friendly places to look for help, including:
- Relatives and friends.
- Church, temple, synagogue, or other religious establishment.
- Caregiver support groups, online or otherwise.
- Therapists, social workers, counselors.
- National caregiving organizations.
- Organizations based around your relative’s condition.
Caregivers are notorious for their reluctance to ask or receive help, but the process can be made easier by following these steps:
- Set aside time to talk to a would-be helper face to face.
- Go over a list of caregiving needs.
- Highlight the areas in which that person might lend a hand.
- Ask them if they would like to help, and if the answer is yes, how.
Once you manage to get some extra help you can start devoting a little time to fulfilling your emotional, social, and physical needs, for example:
- Taking some time to relax every day.
- Write a diary.
- Enjoying a hobby.
- Keeping balance in your life.
- Taking regular breaks from caregiving, including a long break at least once weekly.
- Join a community, whether it is religious, social, or civic.
- Exercise 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
- Eat well.
- Steer clear from alcohol and drugs.
- Get plenty of sleep.
Part of taking care of your emotional needs involves embracing the feelings that may arise as part of the caregiving experience. Accepting negative as well as positive feelings is healthy, as opposed to bottling them up inside. These emotions include:
- Anxiety and worry.
- Anger and resentment.
Of course that A to Z is not same as E-Z, and caregiving has the potential to drive someone mad. That is ok as long as you remember that there can be a method to the madness.