As an elder law attorney, I get a lot of questions about being a caregiver. And I have several close friends who have stepped up to be the most wonderful caregivers for aging family members. (You know who you are!) If you find yourself suddenly in a caregiving role, you may not know where to begin, CaringBridge’s recent article entitled “5 Tips to Be a Good Caregiver” provides some great advice. I salute you, and hope this helps.
Communicate. They say that this is the most important factor, when trying to be a good caregiver. Caregivers should strive to communicate with patience, understanding and empathy. A person being taken care of can sometimes feel like they’re a burden or a nuisance. Good communication and reassurance can help prevent that. You should also have communication between you and your other family and friends. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but those who care about you will want to support you.
Take Care of Yourself. When you’re constantly on call caring for a person who is ill, it’s not hard to forget about your own needs. Caregivers can be so overwhelmed, that they’re unable to take time for their other family or interests. They can feel guilty being away from the person in need. However, you can’t be a good caregiver, if you aren’t also in good shape. Prioritize your own health, physical and mental—it’s vital for both you and your loved one. First, take care of yourself because you can’t take care of a loved one, if you are not taking care of yourself.
Have a Lot of Patience. This is important because it’s helpful to be patient with yourself. You’ll make mistakes, but remember that you’re trying your best, and no one’s perfect. You should also be aware that communication can sometimes be difficult, when you’re caregiving. Your loved one might say or do something that hurts your feelings. However, do your best to be patient and empathetic. Don’t take it personally. Try to look at the situation with understanding and acceptance to battle discouragement.
Create Boundaries. When spending so much time with one person, and sharing their most intimate moments, it’s still important to have some boundaries. These can include you knowing your own limitations and what you’re comfortable doing for that person. Boundaries also apply to the person receiving the care and things, such as the way in which that want to be cared for and their likes and dislikes. Boundaries allow both people to be happier.
Remind Yourself of Your Mission. Sometimes, you can become a caregiver out of necessity or a sudden crisis. Nonetheless, at the center of the situation is love and empathy. Caregivers love and want the best for the person they’re helping. You should try to harness that compassion to keep you motivated through hard times.
Remember that a good caregiver is one who cares. You’re not expected to be perfect, so make certain that you give yourself just as much love and patience as you offer your patient.
Reference: CaringBridge (Feb. 13, 2020) “5 Tips to Be a Good Caregiver”