Senior Health: As a caregiver for an elderly parent or spouse, what would have helped you most in your role as caregiver?
1. First and foremost, take care of yourself.
We can only effectively help others if we first help ourselves. When you’re a caregiver, one of the most crucial things you can do is take care of yourself. When you satisfy your needs, the person you care for gains the benefits, too.
2. Taking Charge of Your Health
You can’t reverse the impact of chronic or progressive illness or a devastating injury on someone you love. You can do several things to take responsibility for your well-being and satisfy your own needs.
3. Recognizing Personal Obstacles
Attitudes and ideas often create personal obstacles that prevent you from caring for yourself. Taking care of others can be a better alternative than taking care of yourself, a lifetime practice. It’s also critical to ask yourself: “What will happen to the person I care for if I get sick? “What if I die?” Breaking old habits and overcoming challenges is not easy, but your age or situation is entirely feasible. The first step in reducing personal barriers to self-care is identifying what hinders you. Caregivers may have misunderstandings that add to their stress and prevent them from practicing effective self-care.
The most common ones are:
• I am accountable for my parents’ health.
• No one else will do it if I don’t.
• If I do things correctly, I will receive the love, attention, and respect I deserve.
• Our family always looks after their own.
• I promised my father that I would always look after my mother.
Negative self-talk, like “I never do anything correctly,” or “There’s no way I could find the time to exercise,” is another significant obstacle that can cause excessive stress. Try positive statements instead: “I’m competent at giving John a bath.” “I can work out for 15 minutes a day.” Remember that your mind accepts what you feed it.
4. Constructive Communication
One of the most critical tools for a caregiver is communicating constructively. When you speak assertively and constructively, others will hear you, and you’ll receive the help and assistance you need.
5. Requesting and Receiving Help
How often have you said, “Thank you, but I’m okay,” when others have asked if they can help you? Many carers are unsure how to draw the goodwill of others and are hesitant to seek help. You may not want to “burden” people or admit that you cannot handle things on your own. Prepare a mental list of ways in which people can help you.
Someone could, for example, take the person you care for a 15-minute stroll a couple of times each week. Your neighbour may go to the grocery shop and pick up a few items for you. A relative might fill out some insurance paperwork. People are more willing to help when the tasks are simplified. And they are eager to help. To let them know it’s up to you.