Caregiving is one of life’s greatest challenges. Yet because it stems from love, it is also among the most rewarding. Often, the best caregiver support comes from other caregivers. Compiled from various online sources, here are five caregiver tips to embrace:
1. Take Care of Yourself
Finding time for yourself is difficult when you’re a primary caregiver. But sometimes, in order to properly care for a loved one, you need to put yourself first. Start by strengthening your body: Eat sensibly and try to exercise at least 30 minutes every day. You need to get enough sleep, too. If you snore a lot and are often tired in the afternoon, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.
Go easy on yourself, and know that it’s okay to put your needs first sometimes. Take advantage of friends and loved ones who offer to help. Preserve your sanity by keeping important items and papers organized and keeping commonly used items in the same place.
2. Make Mealtimes Enjoyable
Make sure your senior loved one eats properly. Medicines, dentures, and diseases can interfere with taste, so prepare foods she enjoys. Remember: Frequent, smaller meals are healthier than large, infrequent ones. Serve meals at regular times, keeping the atmosphere positive. And if your loved one gets a little messy, modify the environment to suit her style.
3. Manage Medications Wisely
Managing medications can be a chore. Some caregivers rely on medication management systems to help. Learn about every medicine your loved one takes, and watch for side effects and interactions with other medicines — both prescribed and over-the-counter (including herbal or natural products). If pills are bitter or difficult to swallow, you can usually crush and add them to food. Before you crush a pill, however, be sure to check with your loved one’s doctor, as it is unsafe to crush certain medications. Keep all medications locked up when they’re not in use, as they can be lost, stolen, or taken inappropriately.
4. Ensure Proper Hygiene
Caregiver advice on hygiene abounds. For example, many suggest you learn how to properly move an adult for such purposes as toileting, bathing, and getting in and out of bed. Taking safety precautions is also advised. This includes installing grab bars in the shower and using skid-proof bath mats. Without jeopardizing her safety, respect your senior’s privacy and independence. If she is able to bathe herself yet you’re nervous about leaving her alone in the bathroom, for instance, an intercom or emergency call button could help.
5. Prevent Falls in the Home
When it comes to keeping seniors safe, there is an abundance of tips worth knowing. Help your senior maintain a well-lit home, and get rid of any cords, throw rugs, or other hazards that could cause him to fall. And because time is critical in responding to fall-related injuries, it’s wise to purchase a personal emergency response system, which can help get your loved one immediate assistance in the event of a fall. In addition, be sure to schedule routine eye exams for your senior, and check his medications to see if any cause dizziness or drowsiness.
These caregiver tips are just some of the many you can find on forums and websites by and for caregivers across the Internet. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your peers for caregiver support, and remember: Great caregiving starts with taking care of you.