Caring for anyone is difficult, even in the best of circumstances.
If you’re caring for a loved one who is ill or who has recently undergone a medical procedure, it can be hard to balance your caregiving responsibilities with your own life. The best thing you can do is help manage their care so they can focus on getting better.
Get organized by filing paperwork under key topics like medical care, benefits, resources, assisted living, nursing homes, etc. Make sure you keep the patient’s medical history and medication list handy, along with notes about any instructions given, and who gave them.
Have a visiting nurse spend some time at your home to teach you how to do tasks such as feed, bathe, and dress your loved one. And always be assertive in getting the information you need for your loved one. Take a list of questions to ask the health care provider. Don’t leave until you receive answers you feel confident you can share with others.
Taking Care Of Yourself
Being a caregiver can be stressful. It’s important to take care of yourself along the way, so you can keep helping the patient. Joining a support groups lets you process feelings, discuss problems and combat loneliness. Check with local hospitals and health organizations or search online to find caregiver support groups. If you’re caring for an older adult, call (800) 677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov to find local services for you or your loved one, or visit a caregiving website like caregiveraction.org and www.caregiver.org.
Friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers may offer to help. Be willing to accept their help, but also be prepared to assign specific responsibilities.
It’s also important to arrange for some time off—take breaks, take walks, whatever you need to keep your own spirits up. A social worker can arrange for a home health aide or respite care, which can free you to take care of personal needs without compromising care.
What Are They Going Through?
Everyone reacts differently to illness, and you won’t always understand your loved one’s thoughts or reactions.
There are things you can do to gain a better understanding of how they feel and what you can do to help:
Don’t force your loved one to talk about their feelings, but be there for them and be ready to listen when they feel like talking.
Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition or procedure, and ask the medical team questions when you’re curious or confused.
Don’t distance yourself from your loved one because of illness. Figure out what you can do, no matter how small, and commit to doing what you can.