Powerful tools for caregiving
I have been a caregiver for multiple sets of parents, who all now have died. Caregiving for someone is both an honor and a struggle. I was able to watch the journey of my loved ones as they passed through different stages of their illness.
I believe it would have been a bit more manageable had I been prepared with powerful tools for caregiving.
I remember it being so beautiful at times and so tough both mentally and physically. Caregiver burnout is a real thing. I can remember at times not knowing how I was going to be able to continue to do this.
If I had powerful tools for caregiving I would have learned to take care of myself while caring for others.
Coordinating medical appointment, getting phone calls in the middle of the night from my dad, and helping my parents dress and bathe is only a few of the tasks I was a part of.
- At least 20% of adult children are taking care of an older parent.
- About 85% of family caregivers in the U.S. do not receive any respite care.
- Nearly half of family caregivers over age 40 handle medical tasks, from changing bandages to inserting catheters or feedings tubes. Among that group, only 47% say they have received adequate training to perform those tasks. But more than 90% of family caregivers say they value the experience.
- Nearly half of caregivers have trouble balancing work and caregiving.
- Men are more likely to have employers who are not supportive of their caregiving duties.
- Of working caregivers, 8% state that they have been sidelined from job-growth opportunities because of their caregiving responsibilities.
- Alzheimer’s disease and other mental-health conditions are more stressful on caregivers than dealing with physical ailments.
- Half of adult caregivers say it’s moderately or very difficult to balance work and caregiving.
- Three-quarters of the respondents found it to be stressful, and more than half found it to be overwhelming.
- Depression affects 20 to 40% of all caregivers.
I currently lead a support group for others who are now on the journey of caring for others. Part of what I suggest are powerful tools for care giving to avoid caregiver burnout. Here are some suggestions:
Give yourself a break. Ask a friend or relative to fill in for you for a few hours occasionally so you can take a walk, watch a movie or go out to dinner.
If you don’t have that sort of informal support available or feel you need more structured respite care, look into other options through the National Respite Locator. This online service provided by of the nonprofit Access to Respite Care and Help National Respite Network can help you find adult day care centers and home care services in your area.
Simplify your communication. Keeping extended family and friends up to date about your loved one’s situation through phone calls or individual emails can be tiring, and you may not want to broadcast that information on social media.
Tap into online resources. The U.S. government’s Eldercare Locator can connect you with your local Area Agency on Aging, which can guide you to resources in your community to help you deal with the challenges you are facing.
You also can call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116.
With the Community Resource Finder, an online database from AARP and the Alzheimer’s Association, you can find a range of programs and services in your area, from elder law attorneys to transportation. The Family Caregiver Alliance’s Family Care Navigator can help you locate local resources, too.
Join a support group. If you feel like you’re alone in your struggle, talking with other family caregivers can lift your spirits and help you think through solutions to various problems.
You may be able to find a support group through a local church or hospital, or at the website of the Well Spouse Association, which coordinates a national network of groups for spousal caregivers.
If you’re taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Association offers a locator for support groups in your area. AARP has an online caregiving forum and a Facebook discussion group where caregivers can share information and advice, and the Family Caregiver Alliance operates an online support group that communicates via email.
Nurture positive relationships. You may be overwhelmed, but take the time to talk with your closest friends and family members.
Spend an evening with someone who is a good listener. Limit your interactions with negative people who will drag down your mood and perspective.
Take care of your own health. Set a goal to establish a good sleep routine and to exercise a certain number of hours every week.
Be sure to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. See your doctor for recommended immunizations and screenings.
Tell your physician that you’re a caregiver and bring up any concerns you may have. A daily relaxation and meditation practice can be beneficial as well.