Statistics show that during this pandemic, many families are keeping their loved ones at home instead of placing them in a Personal Care or Skilled Nursing Care Facility. Many families are deciding to bring in a Home Health or Home Support Caregiver during a period of the day. Then, during another part of the day, family members care for the loved one themselves. Because of this, it is important to know some of the top tips on caregiving, and how to take care of yourself in the process.
Tip 1: Seek Support from other caregivers. If you don’t already take advantage of this, look into home support services in your area that may be able to take over periods of time throughout the week. This will allow you to focus on yourself, your family, work, and other important things that you have happening in your life.
Tip 2: Accept help. If there is something another family member or neighbor offers to help you with, allow them to. This can even be as simple as picking up some groceries while they are at the store, mowing the grass, shoveling snow, or even bringing the mail to the house from the mailbox. Allowing others to take care of these little tasks will help you to get more done during the hours that you are caring for your family member. For example: cleaning, laundry, bathing, or medication organization.
Tip 3: Let the doctors know your concerns and ask questions. Communicating effectively with doctors allows you to get the best advice from the professionals.
Tip 4: Technology is the way of the present and future. Sometimes using new technology will allow for better ways to care for your family member. With that being said, Telehealth is a new way that doctors are connecting with their patients during this pandemic. Other technologies that have been used by caregivers and their loved ones are:
GPS Technology: Some GPS trackers can be worn on clothing or on the wrist. These trackers show the caregiver where exactly the loved one is at any given time. According to ‘A Place for Mom’ online, the family caregiver can be alerted by email, phone, or text if the loved one were to leave a pre-defined geographical area.
Health Tracking: There are some apps that you can download to your smartphone that helps track appointments, health records, insurance, and more. This is an easy way for family members to keep all health-related information in one convenient spot.
Medication Reminders: There are some really useful tools that can help your loved one remember to take pills throughout the day. One new technology that can be used is: MedMinder. According to MedMinder’s website, “This tool is a pill dispenser designed for independent senior living and will manage your loved ones’ medications remotely.”
PERS: Look into a Personal Emergency Response System. Services like Life Alert, Medic Alert, or Medical Guardian will instantly assist your loved one if an emergency happens in their home while the caregiver is not around. Once the button is pressed or triggered, this technology alerts a call center, family members, and emergency services (911 & ambulance), which saves time.
Tip 5: Take care of yourself. Caregiving is definitely rewarding; however, it can be very stressful. First off, know some of the risk factors for caregiver stress. Some of the risk factors include:
Having fewer years of formal education
Living with the person you care for
Higher number of hours spent with caregiver
Lack of coping skills and difficulty solving problems
Lack of choice in being a caregiver
There are also some signs of caregiver stress that you should know:
Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
Feeling tired often
Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
Gaining or losing weight
Becoming easily irritated or angry
Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
Having frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications
If you are experiencing high levels of stress, please consider some of the following options:
Meditate – LINK TO MEDITATION VIDEO
Exercise – LINK TO SHORT EXERCISE VIDEO
Accept help – As said before, allow other family members or neighbors to do some tasks for you if you are able. Also, allow for home support services to take some periods of time to care for your loved one – LINK TO CTKM HOME SUPPORT INFORMATION
Respite Care – When you are feeling overwhelmed, allow for someone else to care for your family member for a small-time. There are many organizations that offer at-home or in-facility respite care. Respite care can be used around the holidays, too. LINK TO CTKM RESPITE CARE INFORMATION
See a Doctor – Most importantly, see a doctor. Doctors will be able to guide you in the direction needed the help your stress as effectively as possible
More resources for caregivers can be found by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging. You can also subscribe to our weekly blog to be notified about new blog posts focusing on different aging insights.
At Christ the King Manor, we hope family caregivers take into consideration some of these tips on how to better care for a loved one and yourself. With more information on Christ the King Manor in general, head to www.ctkmanor.org
Author: Dominique Martino, M.A.
Title: Director of Marketing and Communications
Caregiver Action Network. (2017). 10 Tips for Family Caregivers. In Caregiver Action Network. Retrieved from https://caregiveraction.org/resources/10-tips-family-caregivers
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, March 19). Caregiver stress: Tips for taking care of yourself. In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/caregiver-stress/art-20044784
Wegerer, J. (2019, March 27). 7 Ways Technology Helps Family Caregivers. In A Place for Mom. Retrieved from https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/technology-for-family-caregivers