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9 Caregiver Support Tips to Make Life Easier

Caregiver support plays a major role in reducing hospital visits and improved disease management outcomes. If you are not at your best, your caregiving won't at its best either. Use these tips to make your life as a caregiver a little easier.

9 Caregiver Support Tips to Make Life Easier


Caregiving for the elderly is often not only a job - it's a calling. Individuals who undertake this noble task deserve a medal for their patience and selflessness - and that includes family members who have decided to take it upon themselves to help an older relative or friend by giving continued caregiver support. Caregiver support plays a major role in recurrent hospital visits and improved disease management outcomes.

One of the most difficult parts of providing quality care as a caregiver is providing quality food. When you add up all the time and effort required to provide a meal - like planning a menu, shopping, food preparation, and cleanup - you essentially can become a fulltime restaurant on a smaller scale.

Caregiver support in the form of ready-to-heat-and-eat foods for your senior can take the burden of food preparation off of a caregiver's shoulders. This is one of the most important tips for caregiver support, but here are a few more.

Take Care of Yourself First

If you are not at your best, your caregiving won't at its best either - so eat a healthy breakfast each day, and skip the sweets and alcohol. Stealing away to exercise is increasingly important to manage the stress that can often go along with caregiving - so go for a walk or perform a workout at home.

Get Enough Rest

This could include stealing a nap during the day, and going to bed in time to get between 5-7 hours of sleep.

Talk About your Feelings

If you are feeling any of the symptoms of depression, such as sadness, difficulty concentrating, hopelessness, or apathy, you'll want to speak to someone, and get help. Speaking to a mental health specialist or your physician is good way to determine if what the best kind of help for you might be.

Stay Social

When you are constantly alone, it is stressful, both for humans and in the animal kingdom. Battle negative emotions by staying in touch with family and friends. If you let caregiving become your life, you may find you lose touch with core parts of your personality that come alive in the presence of others.

Ask for Assistance

Some tasks can easily be handled by relatives from afar, such as bill payments or scheduling pest control services. If you compose a list, you make it a bit easier for those loved one to lend a helping hand.

Use the Community

If you contact your local senior center they can make sure that you have access to all of the senior care service providers, which can provide a variety of caregiver support. Faith-based organizations and volunteers from civic groups are able to visit and possibly help with some of the basic responsibilities like cooking or helping with transportation.

Pause for a Moment Each Day

Take a deep breath and find a moment of relaxation where you can tune everything out. Deep breathing or focusing on a beautiful picture and imagining yourself there for a few minutes are a couple of techniques to mentally escape for a few minutes each day.

Schedule a Vacation

If you never take moment off, burnout can easily arise and prevent you from enjoying even the positive parts of caregiver support. Adult day care centers provide daytime supervision and social interaction for your loved one, and elderly adults benefit from being around other individuals within their age group. If your loved one is able to stay at home, ask a neighbor to drop by and check in on your loved one.

Learn to Say No

Don't worry if you can't manage everything in your loved one's life in addition to your own. Sometimes, certain things take priority over others, and making a list of responsibilities can help you prioritize what's more important for the time you have. Remember it's ok to say no, and that stretching yourself too thin doesn't help you be a better caregiver. Don't feel guilty when you say no, just explain that you are not able to schedule in extra projects or activities at this time.

References:
Pottie CG, Burch KA, Thomas LP, Irwin SA. Informal caregiving of hospice patients. J Palliat Med. 2014 Jul;17(7):845-56. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2013.0196.

AARP, American Association of Retired Persons. http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/info-06-2010/crc-10-caregiver-stress-managment-tips.html

Aldehaim AY, Alotaibi FF, Uphold CR, Dang S. The Impact of Technology-Based Interventions on Informal Caregivers of Stroke Survivors: A Systematic Review. Telemed J E Health. 2015 Aug 14. [Epub ahead of print]

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