10 Tips for Caregivers From Caregivers

CaregivingTipsBlogAs I cared for my parents, helping them to live independently at home as they aged, I learned to listen to the learnings of other family caregivers. Just a few weeks ago, I shared 5 Tips for Caregivers and asked others for their views on our @AARPAdvocates Facebook page. The comments from fellow caregivers came flooding in. While I wish I could share them all, here are 10 tips from caregivers to caregivers:

1. Be patient.

Nan: “Patience followed by more patience.” Rae: “Patience! Lots and lots of patience.”

2. Get organized.

Joan: “Make a MEDICAL BINDER in event of an emergency. Include family phone numbers, name, address, Social Security number, all medications and time of day taken. Include any allergies or note that there are none. List any previous medical issues, such as stroke, etc., and date of such. Include the health insurance and Medicare or Medicaid cards and other identifying information. I had to take my mom to the hospital a few times. Had the binder with me because in an emergency you forget things.”

3. Make time for yourself.

Peggy: “Don’t forget you in the process.” Brianna: “If you get burned out and can’t even meet your own needs, you won’t be of any use to yourself or others.”

4. Try to stay positive.

Irene: “Stay positive!” I know sometimes this one can be hard, but a positive outlook makes the day-to-day a little easier.

5. Join a support group.

Cathy: “The knowledge that you are not the only one going through this is valuable, and people learn from each other.” Karen: “You aren’t doing either of you any favors by struggling alone.”

6. Listen.

Michael: “#1 Be a good listener.” Connie: “Listen to their stories. They are amazing.”

7. Trust your instincts.

Sharon: “If something doesn’t feel right … check it out.” Trust your instincts and if something feels off, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

8. Keep the humor.

Linda: “Humor goes a long way.” I know firsthand: Laughter does wonders to reduce stress and lighten the mood!

9. Show your love.

Peggy: “Don’t forget to hug them and tell them you love them.” It’s easy to get caught up with all the things that need to be done, but make sure to remember why you took on this labor of love in the first place.

10. Most important – care with dignity and respect.

Susan: “If you are taking care of someone elderly, don’t treat them like they are ‘overgrown’ children. They should be treated with dignity and respect.”

As millions of Americans selflessly devote themselves to caring for aging parents, spouses and other loved ones, all the tips we can gather are crucial. But we still need some support. AARP is fighting in states across the country to help family caregivers and the loved ones who count on them to remain at home.

Here are some of the ways:

Fellow family caregivers, remember, you’re not alone.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RoamTheDomes for more news on caregiving and other advocacy across the country.

3 comments
rm2750
rm2750 5pts

The progress of the disease does NOT follow the path as per the book.  There are many, many side excursions for which you're just never quite prepared.

ls69crab
ls69crab 5pts

My mom moved in with me during the last 8 months of her life - and if I could have kept her in her house I would have because she was suffering from dementia and when you take them out of their familiar surroundings it really hurts them mentally.  But I had no choice and I did have a wonderful lady that watched her during the day while I was at work and between the two of us and my daughter and 2 very good friends her days were filled with happiness.  But it is a hard job mainly because you do feel isolated and wonder if you are doing enough. 

Tamara7373
Tamara7373 5pts

@ls69crab  Good for you. My mom and dad lived with me for 17 years, it was hard work but also satisfying. I was glad to do this, my parents were such sweeties to me and they deserved a happy life during their golden years. So many children just dump their parents into a nursing home and forget about them, I know because I used to work in them, for several years actually, when I was a teenager, it was so hard to watch the neglect . A former friend lived only twenty minutes away from the nursing home her mom was housed in. She would visit her mom once every 3 months or so, and she would only go if I went with her. I was working and traveling at the times so I could not do it too often. My retired friend didn't even go to her moms funeral, I went, I wanted to make sure the old lady was buried in the right coffin - I was the only one their too. It was hard to do. Years later my former friend used to brag how an attentive daughter she was. I reminded her of a different observation and we haven't spoken since.