Here are 8 tips you can offer next time you are witness to a caregiver in need of some relief:
- Understand what you’re dealing with
It’s important for caregivers to learn about their loved one’s medical condition in order to better understand what their care duties should be.
Putting themselves in the shoes of their loved one will help caregivers to understand and empathize with their loved one’s situation.
Once caregivers understand what they are dealing with, they will be better equipped to set their own limits and reasonable goals.
*iMD Health can help! Try our patient education tool to help caregivers learn about medical conditions!
- Learn to accept your feelings
Caregivers sometimes need to be told that it is ok and perfectly normal to feel guilt, anger, irritability, stress and resentment.
Negative feelings often come along with taking care of loved ones – which is no easy task when coupled with the responsibilities in one’s own life.
Caregivers should know that learning to understand and accept these feelings may help them to find coping mechanisms.
- Set reasonable goals
Caregivers often feel like they have a million things to do and no time to get it all done.
Suggest that they set daily, weekly and monthly goals in order to bring some structure to their care schedule. Goals should be reasonable and not overwhelming.
And it’s important for caregivers not to stress if something doesn’t get done right away!
- Know your limits
When it comes to the welfare of their loved ones, caregivers often push themselves much too hard. Taking on too much responsibility is not sustainable and will eventually lead to burnout.
Caregivers need to know that it is ok to STOP! It is ok to slow down and take a break!
No one can do everything on their own. Caregivers need to make sure they’re also making time to care for themselves. Respite care may be an option to give them some much needed time off.
*Try iMD Health’s patient education platform to help show caregivers the negative effects of long-term stress.
- Reach out to others
The time involved in looking after a loved one can often be isolating for caregivers.
Sometimes they need a reminder that it’s ok to ask for help.
It is also important for caregivers to maintain relationships outside of the caregiver-caretaker relationship. Doing so can serve as a great way to deal with stress.
- Join a support group
It’s normal for caregivers to feel alone in their plight, or that their efforts aren’t good enough.
Suggest joining a support group to meet other caregivers in similar situations. Maintaining close relationships with family and friends is important, but sometimes caregivers need support from people who understand the challenges that core with the caregiving role.
- Manage your stress level
It is essential for caregivers to maintain their own health, starting with becoming aware of how stress affects them.
Ask caregivers to take note of the physical effects of stress (ie. Stomach aches, high blood pressure) as well as how it affects them emotionally (ie. Irritability, overeating).
Caregivers can help themselves stay healthy by seeking out stress-relieving activities – taking a walk, attending a yoga class, or enjoying a hot bath.
- Be realistic
Finally, it is important for caregivers to be realistic in their endeavor to care for a loved one.
The care that they give will absolutely make a positive difference, but many times the outcomes of serious medical conditions are inevitable and cannot be controlled.
Caregivers should take the time to grieve the losses, and focus on positive times as they arise.