We all know caring for a loved one can be enormously stressful and time consuming. There are so many things to remember, worry about, and to do that caregivers typically neglect their own health and well-being. Dedicated to the tasks at hand they don't have time to relax, visit with friends, or go to the movies. Except for the person or people they are caring for, caregivers often become isolated, but it doesn't have to be that way.
The following tips from fellow caregivers can help you cope with the challenges of caregiving, and even open your eyes to possibilites you haven't had time to discover yourself. They originate from the ElderCareLocator which is an online service of the U.S. Health and Human Services.
If you have a tip or suggestion that isn't covered here, please share it with us by sending an email with the word "Tip" in the Subject line or tweet it to us @Unfrazzle. We'll add your tips to our list (newest at top) and send you a "thank you" email or tweet!
- Here's a tip to start the day: "Be prepared." It will make caregiving a lot less stressful. @SeniorityMatter
- Pack your patience and a smile. It's NOT the fault of the one w #Alz that they have #Dementia @ElaineColette
- You call a companion/sitter service & get help for a few days. @AssuredHelp
- When a dementia patient says something nonsensical, don't argue logic with him/her. It only stresses you & doesn't help! @lindaveno
- Take a breather when times get rough, ask for help when you need it, and know you're not alone. Melissa Byers @MBforFamilies
- Join a Facebook or other group of caregivers dealing with the same syndrome. Works for rare Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) @RHOhio PCA (Posterior Cortical Atrophy)
- Stay calm and say "I know your upset, I'm sorry I cannot fix the problem right now" then distract the person that is upset. @RHOhio
- Loved one leaving soiled facial tissues all over? Going through boxes of Kleenex at a time? Handkerchiefs work great! --Joseph Yusem @joearrow1
- Whenever I get frustrated with caring for my mom, I just need to remember that this is the most important thing I've ever done. --Joseph Yusem @joearrow1
- My mom stays in the bathroom for hours. I tell her I have to go bad and she vacates. She has dementia but she's still considerate. --Joseph Yusem @joearrow1
- Mom refuses to bathe. Constructive lie: I tell her she's going to the gynecologist. She wouldn't want to offend. --Joseph Yusem @joearrow1
- Practice lots of self care. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. --John Sovec @JohnSovec
- Watch that the person or persons you are caring for are not grabbing things for stability. Chairs can tip over and cause falls. Use walkers or canes. -- Cindy @day_cj
- Make a weekly action plan. If things can wait, let them. If they cannot, prioritize them. The caregiver needs care, too! -- Tiffany Matthews @HealthEBookLady
- “The hardest thing is feeling guilty when you do get time for yourself because you are getting to do something that they cannot.” -- Cindy @day_cj
- “ I find that attending aerobic class a few days a week really helps me relax. I also enjoy joking with other members in the class. We have fun and I sometimes really need the break.” — Cheryl
- “Neighbors can be life savers! Tell trusted neighbors when your loved one is alone so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.” — Cassy
- “Don’t feel guilty if you need a break. Finding time for you is so so important.” — Andrew
- “ Having a good relationship with my mother’s doctor has been very helpful. Communication is key to ensuring mom gets what she needs.” — Margaret
- “Try establishing a routine and keeping to a set schedule for as much as possible.” — Mildred
- “Find out what services are available in your community through government, public, and private organizations.” — Anonymous
- “ Joining a support group has really been a life saver. I have learned so much from attending meetings and it is nice to know I am not alone. I have formed some lasting friendships with people who understand my need to cry.” — Delores
- “ Invite people over and get out of the house every day. I know getting an elderly person ready and out the door is a big challenge, but your life is important too and you can't let everything that makes you happy go the wayside. Your sanity and feeling of well being is important too. ” — Cheryl P
- “It's been helpful for me to keep a journal. I know this may not be practical for some, but I do it on the computer. This exercise of physically typing the symptoms/emotions/frustrations, etc. has released some of the tension, and helps when I look back. Besides the not-so-pleasant things, I try to also include a humorous note, or inspirational, or even a prayer.” — Carole
- “Take the knobs off the stove so that your loved one does not start to cook and then walk away and forget about it. ”— Lynn F.
- “Modify the bathroom and most used entrance to the home as soon as possible after diagnosis. This will allow your loved one to stay at home longer.” — Pat S.
- “Realize that balancing acceptance,along with desperation (over wanting to make your loved one's situation better), and guilt (over not somehow being able to do more) is very difficult. Searching for that balance is one of the many jobs of the loving care giver.” — Mary
- “Find and use appropriate technologies. Get your parents on the same video conferencing system you use. That way you can use the same product to talk to your own kids and grandkids that you use to talk to your parents. That's especially important since these products don't all talk to each other.” — Wayne C.
- “Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.” — Fred G.
We want to hear your tips and suggestions. Email us with the word "TIP" in the Subject line or tweet us @Unfrazzle
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