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How to Be a Better Caregiver

Did you know that half of all adult Americans have at least one chronic health condition that requires the assistance of a caregiver?  Given that statistic, it is likely you may find yourself in the role as a caregiver at some point in your life.  Perhaps you are currently an elderly caregiver or an in-home care provider.  It is often a thankless job that can overtime wear on your own mental and physical health. 

Take a few minutes to reflect on your caregiving duties and learn new ways to brighten your loved one’s day:

Remember the Real Person Inside – The person you are caring for is likely different (mentally, physically or a combination of the two) than they were before.  Your loved one may be recognizing the change going on inside of them and be scared and agitated.  This frustration can lead to resistance, unkind words or even the silent treatment.  As their caregiver, it’s your job to keep in mind who the person truly was before his/her illness. 

Personal Boundaries Reconsidered – Topics that typically seem inappropriate to talk about in the open, such as toileting and bodily functions, should be addressed in candid and empathetic ways.  The person you are caring for is probably embarrassed to ask for help bathing or getting on or off the toilet.  By showing genuine concern and approaching such topics in a matter-of-fact fashion, your loved one will feel more comfortable communicating their feelings to you.

Patience is a Virtue – As difficult as it is and easy as it may sound, patience is of the utmost importance when it comes to effective caregiving.  Try your best to remove yourself from frustrating situations for a moment, take deep cleansing breaths and do not address the issue again until you calm down.  As you know, caregiving is usually a thankless job – it’s important to be mindful of and maintain your own mental health. 

Educate Yourself – Whether you’re an in-home care provider or an elderly caregiver to your parent or spouse, it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge.  Learn all that you can about your loved one’s health condition(s).  Seek information from their healthcare providers, friends who have had similar experiences and even books and the internet to provide the best care for them.  Being knowledgeable about your loved one’s illness can help you better care for and understand them. 

Have Humility & Be Sincere – As you are well aware, being a caregiver is a selfless act and often a thankless job.  Approach it as something you do from the heart and know that you are making a positive impact on the life of another.  Remember that the person you are caring for, although impaired, still has opinions, thoughts and feelings.  Listen to him/her and consider their point of view without making condescending remarks. 

Importance of Body Language A big part of human communication and interaction is body language.  Even if the person you are caring for cannot verbally tell you something is wrong or uncomfortable, their body language can speak volumes.  Look for mood changes and subtle non-verbal cues, as they may be indicators of serious health problems or personal care needs. 

Acknowledgment & Teamwork – Learn a good balance of being attentive to your loved one’s needs while also being mindful of your other responsibilities.  No matter how small or urgent their request may be, always acknowledge it to avoid them feeling unimportant or angry.  Then assess how quickly you need to attend to the task.  Remember that you are part of a larger team consisting of other family members, friends, doctors and nurses.  Be sure everyone is on the same page to better coordinate, maximize responsiveness and be an efficient care team.

Be Present & Attentive – As a caregiver, it can be easy to get caught up in an endless list of tasks.  Be mindful of how much time you’re spending working “around” the person you’re caring for and really get a feel for how they are feeling.  Take notice of their disposition, tone of voice and what they are communicating.  Once they feel you’re truly interested in them as a person, they will open up and be more cooperative and willing to accept your help.  A simple hug, pat on the arm or holding their hand can make all the difference in making the person you are caring for feel reassured and important. 

Some aspects of caregiving can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling.  That being said, when you need a break for your mental sanity or from the wear and tear of caregiving it is okay to ask for help.  Landis at Home, a reliable home care service agency in Lancaster, PA, is here to give you a much-needed break and assist your loved one.  We offer a variety of personal respite care services, including companionship personal care assistance and even memory support.

Here at Landis at Home, we aid to help you Thrive at Home, wherever you call home!”

Contact us today to discuss home care options for your loved one at (717) 509-5800.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!