How to Be a Good Caregiver

Being a caregiver is both a rewarding and demanding role.  Here are some tips to be a good caregiver.

If you find yourself suddenly in a caregiving role, you may not know where to begin.  CaringBridge’s recent article entitled “5 Tips to Be a Good Caregiver” provides some great advice on how to be a good caregiver.

Communicate. This is the most important factor, when trying to be a good caregiver. Caregivers should strive to communicate with patience, understanding and empathy.  A person being taken care of can sometimes feel like they’re a burden or a nuisance. Good communication and reassurance can help prevent that. You should also have communication between you and your other family and friends. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but those who care about you will want to support you.

Take Care of Yourself.  When you’re constantly on call caring for a person who is ill, it’s easy to forget about your own needs. Caregivers can be so overwhelmed that they’re unable to take time for their other family or interests. They can feel guilty being away from the person in need.  Studies even show that serving as a caregiver often takes a toll on the caregiver’s health.

Your health and well-being are important too, and you can’t be a good caregiver to your loved one if you aren’t healthy. Prioritize your own health, physical and mental—it’s vital for both you and your loved one.

Have a Lot of Patience. This is important because it’s helpful to be patient with yourself. You’ll make mistakes, but remember that you’re trying your best, and no one’s perfect. You should also be aware that communication can sometimes be difficult when you’re caregiving. Your loved one might say or do something that hurts your feelings. This is often due to the underlying illness which may affect your loved one’s personality.  However, do your best to be patient and empathetic. Don’t take it personally. Try to look at the situation with understanding and acceptance to battle discouragement.  This article provides guidance on the topic as well.  https://www.galliganmanning.com/caring-for-an-elderly-parent-without-ruining-your-relationship/

Create Boundaries. When spending so much time with one person, and sharing their most intimate moments, it’s still important to have some boundaries. These can include you knowing your own limitations and what you’re comfortable doing for that person. Boundaries also apply to the person receiving the care and things, such as the way in which that want to be cared for and their likes and dislikes. Boundaries allow both people to be happier.

Remind Yourself of Your Mission. Sometimes, you can become a caregiver out of necessity or a sudden crisis. Nonetheless, at the center of the situation is love and empathy. Caregivers love and want the best for the person they’re helping. You should try to harness that compassion to keep you motivated through hard times.

Get Help.  With so many people serving as caregivers across the country, there are a wealth of resources to support caregivers and their loved ones.  Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association, Dementia Society and others have information, support groups and other resources to help you in your mission.

Remember that a good caregiver is one who cares. You’re not expected to be perfect, so make certain that you give yourself just as much love and patience as you offer your patient.

Reference: CaringBridge (Feb. 13, 2020) “5 Tips to Be a Good Caregiver”

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Helping Your Elderly Parents during the Pandemic

Our elderly parents are especially vulnerable during the coronavirus, but there are ways to safely help them right now.

Considerable’s recent article entitled “4 things you can do for your aging parents during the coronavirus pandemic” reports that 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. related to COVID-19 have been in adults 65 years old and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Helping our elderly parents during the pandemic has become a major concerns for many people.  If your parents are in one of the vulnerable categories, here are four things you can do right now to help them.

  1. Shop or help them place orders online. With many cities experiencing a shopping frenzy in response to the coronavirus, personal care and household items have quickly disappeared from stores. You can help your parents by allowing them to stay home and going to the store for them and dropping off groceries on their door. You can also place online orders that can be delivered to their home.  Some stores have also set aside times for elder customers to shop to avoid them coming at peak times.
  2. Contact them regularly. The CDC says the coronavirus is believed to spread primarily from person-to-person contact, particularly between people who are closer than six feet from each other. Therefore, you have likely already been separating yourself from your family members outside of your home, including your parents. To avoid possibly exposing your parents, use Skype, FaceTime, or call them on the phone. Stay in close communication to keep their spirits up and check on how they’re feeling. This can help you to verify their mental and physical health, as the days of social distancing add up. You can set up a schedule with specific times you’ll call, so they have something to look forward to throughout the day.
  3. Watch for scams. We’re already hearing about the con artists coming out of the woodwork to prey on the elderly—and all of us in this medical and financial crisis.  See here for a fuller discussion.  https://www.galliganmanning.com/coronavirus-scams-are-surfacing/  Speak to your parents about these scams, so they can protect themselves. The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines for avoiding scams, including the following:
  • Hang up on robocalls and don’t press any numbers.
  • Verify your sellers because many online sellers may say they have in-demand products in stock, when they actually don’t.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
  • Research before making donations, and if asked for donations by cash, gift card, or wiring money, pass!
  1. Keep ‘em busy. Seniors have unique challenges when they stay at home. The inactivity that can be linked to being confined in the home can cause declines in physical health and in physical abilities. The elderly are also at greater risk of developing depression in social isolation, and their elevated risk for bad outcomes from this virus can cause higher levels of anxiety and lead to sleep difficulties and other health issues. Encourage your parents to read, play a board game, do a puzzle, or take a walk, provided that they’re keeping distance from others. Many religious groups have also transitioned their services online, and there are plenty of movies and TV shows on-demand for home viewing.

Most significantly, make certain that your parents are taking the pandemic seriously and emphasize the importance of social distancing.  The coronavirus has been hard on everyone, but following these suggestions can help your elderly parents during the pandemic.

Reference:  Considerable (April 8, 2020) “4 things you can do for your aging parents during the coronavirus pandemic”

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COVID19 UPDATE: CDC Recommends Care Plans for Both Older Adults and Caregivers

Be Prepared - Have a Care Plan in Place

Quick. You or your senior loved one is running a fever, coughing and struggling to breathe. You suspect COVID-19 and a full-blown medical emergency starts to unfold. Medical professionals will need to quickly know the patient’s health conditions, medications, healthcare providers and emergency contacts.

Are you ready?

The Centers for Disease (CDC) recommends developing a Care Plan now as part of your emergency preparedness.

What is a Care Plan?

A care plan is a document that summarizes a person’s health conditions and current treatments for their care. The CDC offers a handy form you can use, Complete Care Plan. This is a fill-able form you can complete on your computer or print and complete by hand.

How Do You Develop a Care Plan?

The CDC offers these tips

  • Start a conversation about care planning with the person you take care of.
  • Talk to the doctor of the person you care for or another health care provider.
  • Ask about what care options are relevant to the person you care for.
  • Discuss any needs you have as a caregiver.

And remember, care plans can reduce emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and improve overall medical management, especially during a medical emergency.

For more information on Coronavirus issues that may affect you see https://www.galliganmanning.com/covid-19-update-you-need-a-medical-power-of-attorney-now/ and https://www.galliganmanning.com/coronavirus-scams-are-surfacing/.

Resource: Centers for Disease Control, Coronavirus Disease 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/older-adults.html

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