Anyone who has chosen the noble profession of caregiving can attest to the long hours, tiring days but the feeling of deep satisfaction that goes along with caring for others. It’s no easy job. Being available to serve other people requires many special qualities. Caregivers typically take care of the day to day needs of the elderly, ill, or disabled, ranging from minimal help to full-time hygiene and health management. A caregiver can be either a health professional or even a close relative, a child or a mother.
Is your grandmother assisted by a caregiver? Are you a caregiver yourself? The 15th of February is National Caregivers Day, when we celebrate all those who dedicate their lives to caring for others. National Caregivers Day was founded by Providers Association for Home Health & Hospice Agencies in 2015. Take a moment to recognize the dedication of caregivers by using the #NationalCaregiversDay to post on social media.
Create time and space for yourself
Always giving and giving can become exhausting over time. Don’t become a victim to burnout, remember your own needs. Taking care of a chronically or terminally ill family member can be especially difficult and emotionally taxing.
Find a way to “refill your cup”. Implement regular breaks in your day. Take time to sit down and take a few relaxing breaths. Meditation and movement are great ways to recenter yourself and gain strength to go on. What’s more, their duration can be customized to fit your schedule. Yoga, a walk, or just a few stretches can activate you and help you battle fatigue.
Add technology to your toolbox
Let technology help you. There are some amazing tech tools for caregiving available nowadays. If you are a son or daughter taking care of an elderly parent, you don’t have to go at it alone. Add safety measures to your caregiving, from installing emergency alarms in the home to establishing an online connection to your relative.
If your grandma has a tablet or a smartphone, download the senior-friendly app Oscar Senior to make connecting to the Internet and outside world easier for her. You can check up on her when you’re unable to pay a visit. You can see her on video and be sure she’s doing alright. Oscar Senior can become an invaluable companion to your caregiving.
Find a support group
Constant caregiving can become overwhelming and lonely at times. Don’t face problems alone, find a group of caregivers online with whom you can share your experience. There might be a group available in your location, or if not, there are a number of online communities that center around the topic of caregiving.
The FCA, or Family Caregiver Alliance, founded in the 1970s is a community-based non-profit organization, established to provide assistance to family members who provide caregiving to others. Their website can lead you to support groups in your area. If you have limited time or are far from any group, look around online. An online option is the AARP Caregiving Community, a forum where members discuss all topics related to caregiving in hopes of improving the quality of life for caregivers.
Become an activist for your rights as a caregiver
If you are a family caregiver, you might find it difficult to balance work, life and your caregiving obligations. According to the AARP, 40 million people are family caregivers in the United States. The AARP interest group, whose mission is “to empower people to choose how they live as they age,” is behind the passage of more than 200 state laws that support family caregivers and continues to fight for more telehealth options, better access to respite-care programs, and more.
Family caregiving is valuable. Seniors age independently in their own homes, while maintaining close family ties which is essential to maintaining a healthy spirit. As an activist, you can help new legislation move forward. Juggling work and caregiving should not be an issue. Get the support your family needs.
Join a respite-care program
Did you know that you can take a break? Respite Care provides temporary relief to a primary caregiver from the continuous support and care of an adult who is elderly or disabled and dependent on others. It’s short-term relief for anyone who needs a break from caregiving.
You may have to leave your elderly loved one for work, family, or other reasons. Or quite simply, you may just need some time off, to recharge. Did you know that 38 percent of family caregivers rate their job as emotionally stressful? Avoid burnout and start a respite care plan you can implement during your absence.
Being a caregiver is a full-on, demanding role. If you work as a professional or family caregiver, finding time to focus on your own needs is crucial to being a real help to others. Take frequent breaks, connect to other caregivers, and incorporate ways to make your work-life balance easier. You can also find help in technology, by giving your senior the chance to connect to you and others online. They can enjoy everything the Internet can offer and you can be comforted in knowing that you can reach them whenever necessary.