Whether you are a family caregiver or a caregiver/nurse by profession, it is important to get some much needed time for yourself. We have the done the relevant checks and we now have someone responsible, who understands what is required of him or her, who knows what needs to be done and in what manner, the time and day they need to be there, professional and or certified, if there is any emergency who should be contacted and most important will be sensitive, caring and understanding to your caree. It is now time to focus on yourself.
Well, this is where you as a family caregiver needs to plan how to put this time to good use.
Find emotional support
Joining a support group can help you meet people who truly understand the difficult situations you're facing. It allows you the space to share your challenges, fears, anger, sorrow and joy. Being part of a support group will allow you to get helpful tips and possible solutions to some of the challenges you may face. In this group no one will be judged, laughed at, accused of not doing enough or doing the wrong thing. The Caregivers Association of Trinidad & Tobago (CATT) provides such a platform, where we support each other throughout this caring process.
How far will a car get on an empty tank of gas? Well the same applies to you, you cannot expect to perform our duties if we are just running on empty. Get into an exercise routine, it doesn’t matter how simple it may be, it can be as simple as walking, marching in one spot for 10 minutes or sit down and stand up in a chair for 3 reps of 20. No matter what it is stick to your routine. Eating healthy is expensive but try your very best to maintain good eating habits and yes I cannot stress on how important this is. Sleep, get your 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I myself am very guilty of not getting enough sleep. We always say yeah I will catch up on the weekend and the weekend flies by so we say next weekend and before we know it months are going by and we are running on 3-4 hours per night. Get a schedule and try to maintain it. Just as there are bad habits, there are also good habits. Prioritize and be consistent as much as you possibly can, I know it is easy to say, but trust me, just start with one simple step, so let’s try getting enough sleep and then we can work our way to the eating health and exercising.
Ask for and accept help
Asking for help and accepting help when it is offered, is one of the biggest steps you can take to being the best caregiver you can possibly be. Family and friends want to help, but they usually don't know how or what to do. Try having a list ready, and break it down into steps, so that it is not overwhelming to the person helping. Trust me this little breather will make the world of difference to you and your caree.
Get formal training
Like everything else in life, doing a task you know nothing about is often very tedious and stressful. The constant second guessing of, “am I doing it right?” will wear you down fast. Knowledge is power and being part of the CATT will give you, your family and friends the opportunity to get the relevant training needed to better understand the relevant illness. What to expect as the disease progresses e.g. different stages of dementia and what to expect. How to provide basic caring e.g. how to lift correctly, how to address bed sores, how to change an adult pamper, how to deal with difficult situations and any other topic you want covered with the appropriate answers and training.
This is probably one of the biggest challenges we face as Family Caregivers. What’s causing these emotions? If we can stop and ask ourselves what just happened to make me feel this way? Will be the first step to being able to control situations when they occur. It makes it easier to let go when we get a better understanding of how situations affect us and, what we can do to control our emotions, thereby putting ourselves in a better position to be able to let go of situations. Now I am not saying this is going to be easy, it takes a lot of practice and patience and self-understanding to master the emotions of caregiving. This is still work in progress for me and sometimes I feel like I am starting all over again, but you just dust yourself off and go at it again.
Take a break
Knowing when enough is enough, will make you a better caregiver. It will allow you to provide the type of care that is needed for your caree and will also make you feel good about the task at hand. It doesn’t matter what type of break you take. It could be a nap, read a book, take a walk, go on vacation, go to the spa, play football, go to a carnival fete. What ever it maybe, that will allow you to get the breathing space needed to get back to your caregiving role, then you just go right ahead and do it.
Pardon the interruption
When everything seems to be spiraling out of control. When changes in your caree seem to be happening every day. What do you do, when the physical decline in your caree throws off your routine? When the changes in the mind seem to slow down the thought process. What do you do? Well you try to stay organised and on a path that will take you to what will now be your “new normal” and before you know it, you and your caree will be back to a regularly scheduled life.
Share the responsibility
Again, being able to let someone else care for your caree maybe easier said than done. We all feel like, no one else can care for mom like me. I vowed to take care of my wife through sickness and health. Having someone help you doesn’t make you a horrible person, it makes you a responsible and caring person. You want the best care possible for your loved one and, if you have a professional assisting through this process, it will allow you to give your caree the best care and, will allow you to spend quality time with your caree. Remember, you were a daughter, a wife, a husband, a brother, a sister, a father, a mom, a dad before you were their caregiver.
Are you a Family Caregiver? Or Were you a Family Caregiver? ALL are Welcomed.
Join CATT - Caregivers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (Support Group)
(Membership is FREE – Call or WhatsApp - 1-868-310-2742)
Monthly Support Group meeting held 2nd Saturday Every Month 11am to 1pm
Location will be given when you confirm attendance. As our locations are exciting, warm and inviting and always changing. We look forward to meeting you.
Send comments to email [email protected] Or WhatsApp 310-2742