Being a caregiver can be difficult, tiring, but most of all rewarding. Caregivers are often thrown into this role due to an unforeseen event of an older family member. When it happens to us, we may notice ourselves taking on more responsibility to help them and then all of a sudden we’ve become a caregiver.
Becoming a caregiver isn’t something that you are likely prepared for because it either happens so gradually or it happens when an unexpected crisis occurs out of nowhere.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, nearly 16.8% of Americans are providing care to a family member or friend that is 50+ years old. That’s 41.8 million people providing care in 2020.
Being a caregiver for a loved one can be a challenge. If you find yourself suddenly in those shoes, here are some tips to assist you through the journey.
Make a plan. Decide if you’ll be the primary caregiver or if you’ll be dividing this responsibility up accordingly with other family members. Know your boundaries and be open to talking to family about the plan. Make sure to create a system to keep track of all medications and appointments your loved one needs. It’s critical to keep the information organized and centralized whether you’re the only caregiver or if you’re sharing the responsibility.
Be flexible. This caregiver role may be new to you which means it’s likely new to the loved you’re helping. They may not be used to or comfortable with asking for help, especially if it’s something they have always been able to do for themselves. Stay flexible and understanding that this is new for all of you.
Ask for help when you need it. If you have become the primary caregiver, that doesn’t mean you have to be the only one completing every task. There is nothing wrong with asking for assistance from siblings or a significant other. They can help run errands for you or your loved one. They can help with a meal or help with house cleaning. As much as we want to believe we can do it all, we may not always be able to. You can’t pour from an empty cup, as they say!
Ask questions. Most likely, being a caregiver isn’t your profession. You may not know everything about caregiving and best practices and that’s okay! If you need to learn how to properly bathe someone- find a resource. If you need to learn CPR- take a class! There are many resources out there to support you.
Be a cheerleader for your loved one. No, you don’t have to wear your old cheer uniform from your high school football days, but it would be nice to provide words of encouragement that your senior loved one may need to hear right now. Make an extra effort to show them that you care and that they’re doing a great job at whatever it may be. Declining health can cause seniors to become frustrated with themselves and the things that they cannot do anymore. Empathy is nice but it’s also good to remind them of what they can do and how proud you are of them.
Caregiving is no easy task. There will be frustrating and defeating times where you may feel like it is too much to handle. Always be honest with yourself and your emotions because they are worth validating. While it can be a challenge, there is an upside. You may grow closer to your loved one and experience a different bond than you have ever felt.
There can come a time when it may become too much and that is okay. The most important thing is be part of a new solution, and to assure yourself that whatever the choice may be, it’s the best choice for all parties involved.
Debra was the primary caregiver for her mom before moving her to Melrose Meadows. She and her mother decided to make the move to senior living in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic because she felt as though it was imperative to her mom’s well-being.
“The thing that has really blown me away is the staff here. Everyone is professional and so caring. It’s best described as loving, really,” Debra says. “Just this week when I was there a young woman came to assist with my mom’s shower and I saw first-hand how patient and caring she was. It was truly touching. And you know what? This is not a rare quality in the Melrose staff because I see it from everyone every time I’m here.”
Debra says her mom settled into Melrose Meadows right away and she believes it was the right decision for her mom to make the move to Assisted Living.
“I heard from many people before I moved mom that ‘all these places are the same’. I know now that is not true, and I know we made the right choice and that is a wonderful feeling. If I am away, I know she is cared for physically and emotionally and that is a huge comfort to me
We have such respect for caregivers here at Melrose – because we are caregivers! We’re here to help when you’re ready for it. Melrose Meadows is now open for in person visits with an appointment. Give us a call today to take a tour or to get any of your questions answered over the phone. We want to help you be the best caregiver you can be for your loved one!