Being a caregiver is an incredibly rewarding, albeit exhausting role to play. You are on call 24 hour a day, often serving as the lifeline for someone you love and care for deeply. From bathing to preparing meals to engaging in simple mental and physical activities with those in your care, the days can often feel long, tiring and even lonely. Our team of expert caregivers at Carefor has come together to compile this essential resource guide to help those of you pouring your hearts and souls and hours into helping the seniors in your life feel supported, loved and honoured.
Self-Care Tips for Caregivers
- Keep to a schedule to manage your days and time and daily to-do lists
- Ask for (and accept) help from family members, friends or in home care services so you don’t burn out
- Stay active even if it means just taking short walks a few times a day
- Reduce and manage your own stress with techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathwork
- Connect with others and speak candidly about how you are feeling in your role as a caregiver. If the feelings become overwhelming, consult a therapist for additional support.
- Stay present and live in the moment. As a caregiver, we know that any moment could be the last, and reminding ourselves of the value of each minute spent with our loved ones can help us find peace of mind.
- Start a gratitude journal and try to write down at least one thing you are grateful for each day.
- Take a break and do something you love.
Fighting the Guilt of Taking a Break as a Caregiver
Carefor Day Program Team Leader Carolyn Puderer understands the difficulties of being a caregiver, which is why our respite programs exist. During this period of social isolation, caregivers that were once receiving respite every now and then are now working round-the-clock again.
“Self-compassion is important,” Carolyn stresses. “Give yourself a break, and don’t shy away from your feelings because they will bottle up and contribute to more stress. We’re in unprecedented times. We all need a break every now and then. So, find something they enjoy and step away, don’t feel guilty, and go find that time for yourself because you’re only able to provide the best care if you’re healthy.”
Keep in mind, doing nothing can also be productive because it gives you time to stop and recharge, otherwise you might experience caregiver burnout.
How to Know it is time to send your loved one to a retirement home
Whether you’ve been caregiving for a few days, a few months or a few years, there are some surefire signs when it is time to let go of your responsibility and send your loved one to a retirement home.
- The senior is unsafe at home alone and/or unable to eat, use the restroom, walk, and perform basic tasks independently
- You and your family are unavailable or overwhelmed with your responsibilities
- Medications are being missed or skipped altogether
- You or the senior are experiencing social isolation, depression, or addiction
- The seniors' living space is in disarray and the senior can no longer practice hygiene
- Mobility issues, memory or other mental and physical conditions are worsening
- The senior is getting into dangerous situations when left alone at home (oven on, falls, etc)
- At home care simply is not working for you and your family
- You are feeling drained, resentful, and exhausted trying to perform caregiving tasks
Easing the Transition to Retirement Living
Moving and change are never easy, especially in the later years of life when one has resided in their home for a long time. Many seniors, alongside their family members, struggle with the transition to retirement living. Here are some tried and true ways that caregivers can help make the switch to retirement living easier on the seniors they love and care for.
- Include your loved one in making the decision in the first place, allowing them to feel a sense of control over the choice made.
- Take a tour of the facility together with your family member and even ask about a trial stay for a few nights.
- Personalize the space with items, photographs and things that make the senior feel at home
- Get to know the staff at the retirement facility with your senior and don’t be afraid to ask questions as needed.
- Attend social and recreational events with your senior family member at the retirement facility in the beginning and encourage them to continue attending so they can build community and make friends.
- Be patient. Transitions are difficult but worthwhile and the benefits of living in a retirement home far outweigh the drawbacks.
Caregivers are the lifeline of our society. Their patience, compassion and love bring light and joy to the lives of their loved ones. But it is a hard job, and when it becomes to taxing, physically or mentally, it is important to know that there are other options available. Carefor provides a safe, supportive, and loving environment for seniors at an affordable rate. Contact our team today to learn how we can help take the load off of your shoulders firstname.lastname@example.org.