The New Normal - Beginning Life as a Family Caregiver
As a family caregiver, you take on responsibility for your loved one's health when not in the care of a professional. What you do is the work of angels. When you're thrust into this situation unexpectedly, it can be difficult do know what to do. What does it mean to care? What am I supposed to do each day? What results should I strive to achieve?
At Care3, we have been through this situation and want to help you. People don't give you tactical advice on what to do in the beginning because they either don't know or don't want to overwhelm you with details when you're still adjusting to this new normal. While everyone is certainly being considerate, you do need a path to being successful and helping your loved one to heal. In typical Care3 fashion, here are three steps that can keep you less stressed, more organized, and help your loved one heal, recover, and/or be comfortable.
- Talk openly to others. This seems counterintuitive, right? When discussing health, privacy is the norm. Not in caregiving. One thing is true in caregiving and that is you can't do it all alone. Yes, you're an angel, but remember, you need sleep! You also have other life responsibilities. You want other people around you, trusted family and friends, to talk to about what's happening. You may also find those people willing to fill in for you if there are some care tasks that you can't complete for some reason. Those people are YOUR angels.
- Make a plan. You've heard this before: Failure to plan is planning to fail. Caring for a loved one is no different. When you left the hospital or other health facility, someone gave you instructions on how to care for your loved one. Yes, it was probably on a piece of paper and had some 'medical-speak' but it was at least a start in knowing what to do. Take that plan an break it down into simple steps. Mark each step by how often it has to be completed, multiple times per day, once daily, weekly, etc. and mark what happens when the plan is complete. When you've completed this plan, you'll know what you have to do each day, what the goal of the plan is, and can integrate all of that into the rest of your life routine. Care3 can help with this.
- Don't forget the simple stuff. One of the things that we often forget when we're caring for others is their routine. We get wrapped up in our own and forget that our loved ones had a routine, too. One of the most important things you can do is to give your loved one a new routine of basic daily life activities. Bathing, grooming, meal-times, etc. are how we organize our lives. Set up a routine for your loved one so everyone knows what to expect each day. You'll find that certainty reduces your loved one's anxiety as well, which really helps in recovery and healing.
Follow these three steps and you'll find caregiving to be a challenging, yet do-able action. You can do this.