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4 Tips to Become a Better Caregiver | Comfort Keepers Denver

Aug 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Denver

Some say that with any occupation, hobby, talent, or in any other aspect of life, there’s always room for improvement.

The same can be said for caregiving. Whether you’re new to it or have been providing care for years, it’s important to stay up-to-date with latest caregiving tips and tricks.

Here are 4 you can start using right now to become a better caregiver today:

1. Don’t Have Expectations

Simply put, your loved one may go through a lot of changes as you care for them. Any conditions they have may change their mobility, physical health, or cognitive function, and a plethora of changed needs can come from any and all of these.

Don’t have expectations on how providing care of them “should” go. Don’t expect them to act or be a certain way, and don’t assume things, especially when it comes to making important decisions about their plan of care.

Be flexible and adaptive to their changing needs, and don’t stress yourself out about things you can’t control. If they begin to forget things more often, let them be forgetful. If they can no longer use the stairs easily (or safely), get the right tools to help them, or move all of their day-to-day functions to the first floor. Caregiving is not dependent on the caregiver’s wishes; it relies on the needs of the senior.

2. Learn Other Ways to Say the Word “No”

This is especially important if your loved one has dementia or other neurodegenerative conditions.

You may find yourself repeating yourself or almost arguing with them increasingly, as their requests, questions, or even general comments may become confusing or illogical.

You may find yourself saying “no” to them a lot more than you used to. After a while, this can begin to make them feel incapable, or that you’re denying their every request.

Get creative with your responses to some things. Saying “no” over and over may only agitate or confuse them more than they already are, so come up with alternative answers to distract them away from the topic at hand.

A great way to do this is to ask them about past memories or a topic you know they like to talk about. Or, sit down and make crafts with them, play some old music for them to listen to while you get some chores done, or take them for a drive through their favorite parts of town.

3. Accept Help and Time Off Without Guilt

Caring for someone else is difficult work. It can become so easy to put all of your energy towards their needs that you almost entirely neglect your own.

This is not a sustainable practice, and because of the heavy tolls the job can take on you, there will regularly come times where you need assistance and breaks.

If someone offers you help, even in the smallest way, gladly take it. Put your pride aside and realize you are not in this alone (and that’s a good thing!).

Additionally, when you need breaks, take them. Arrange for someone else to come care for your loved one while you leave, whether it’s for a few hours to go run some personal errands or just get out of the house, or it can even be over a weekend (or longer) so you can go on vacation or to an important business meeting out of town.

First look for other relatives who can help, and if no one is available, think about hiring a temporary caregiver or looking into respite care at your local senior facility. These individuals and programs are designed to give you the breaks you absolutely need, so take advantage of them!

At the end of the day, the care you give is reflective of the care you give yourself. If you’re not meeting your own needs and prioritizing your own mental and physical health, how can you expect to do that for someone else?

4. If You’re Caring from Afar, Call and Write Regularly

Lastly, if your caregiving from a distance, show your senior you are thinking of them regularly. Think about scheduling a weekly call with them so that they will not only have something to look forward to each week, but you can ensure their wellbeing on a regular basis, too. Seniors who live alone or far away from other loved ones can experience loneliness and isolation, so it’s important to check in on them often and remind them that they are loved.

Also, think about throwing in the occasional greeting card, letter, or pictures of you/other loved ones to send. Receiving mail is a sure way to brighten their day!

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