An elderly family member has just taken ill, and you have assumed the responsibility of being the caregiver. Suddenly, schedules need to be readjusted, new logistical arrangements have to be made, and the to-do list goes on. One can easily get lost in all this flurry of to-dos, to the point of overlooking another important aspect of your caregiving role—your emotional readiness. Although it’s not possible to be 100% emotionally ready for this task, you can still better understand and manage your emotions during this transitional period with these valuable insights from other experienced caregivers:
Accept That Change Is Constant
Things have changed (and will constantly be changing). If you’re looking after your parent, the reversal of roles is one such change. Your parent, who has always been the one taking care of you, is now dependent on your support and care. Embracing changes can help you take things in your stride and manage stress better.
Take It One Step At A Time
As with all things new, there’ll be an initial period of adjusting and re-learning. Allow both you and your care recipient to learn by making mistakes, learning from the mistakes, and improving.
Understand Your Care Recipient’s Condition
Check with your care recipient’s doctor and find out more about their physical condition, how to care for them and how it will affect other areas, such as emotionally, socially, etc. This information not only equips you to look after your care recipient better, it can also prepare you mentally on what you can expect.
As things are constantly changing and evolving, it’s also essential to be in constant communication with your care recipient and other stakeholders, such as doctors, family members, etc.
Seeing Through Your Care Recipient’s Perspective
It could come as a shock if your usually loving and genial care recipient suddenly act or speak in a harsh manner. As they are going through uncertainties in their lives, they may inadvertently take it out on the nearest and closest person — the caregiver — in confusion and frustration.
At this point of their life, the unconditional love and understanding of people around them is crucial. To restore to them a sense of control, you can give your care recipient some autonomy to make certain decision or consult them in caregiving matters.
Enlist Your Spouse’s Support
The both of you are in this together. When the going gets tough, you and your spouse can be a great source of emotional and physical support to each other.
Take Time Off Caregiving Duties To Recharge
It’s difficult to care for another person when you’re drained, emotionally, mentally and physically. Get help from another family member or close friend as a stand-in caregiver, and treat yourself to some rejuvenating me-time.
Encourage Continued Familial Contact
Keep your care recipient surrounded with loved ones. Opportunities to share their stories, dish out advice or have a fun family day out can convey that they are still valued. Furthermore, such interactions can stimulate them physically, mentally and emotionally.
Often, caregivers give of their time and effort selflessly, but their energy and joy can be depleted over time if the emotional welfare of these caregivers are not taken care of.
For more tips and support for caregivers, you can visit AIC website on Caregiving.