3 Tips for Being a Caregiver To An Older Family Member

In many people’s lives, there comes a time where you have to give care to someone who may have taken care of you when you were a child. And although you may love this elderly family member dearly, becoming a caregiver can be emotional work that’s hard on the caregiver both mentally and physically. However, there are things you can do to help ease the burden on yourself and better come to accept and understand your role as a caregiver. To show you how, here are three tips for being a caregiver to an older family member.

Recognize The Two DIfferent Types of Caregiving

According to Carol Bradley Bursack, a contributor to AgingCare.com, the role of caregiver often comes to pass in one of two ways: in “sneak-up mode” and in “crisis mode”. When a family member has been slowly becoming sicker or more feeble, this is when the role of becoming a caregiver can sneak up on you. Generally you’ll be able to read the signs and prepare yourself for the idea of becoming a caregiver. However, with crisis mode, something dramatic usually happens that instantly propels your loved one into a state of needing care, which gives you little to no time to come to terms with being a caregiver before you’re thrust into the situation. But by preparing now for ways to make caregiving work for you, either situation can be manageable.

To navigate these different types of caregiving scenarios effectively, it’s essential to adopt a proactive approach. In sneak-up mode, where the transition to caregiving is gradual, it’s beneficial to start by educating yourself about your loved one’s condition and potential care needs. This might involve researching medical information, joining support groups, and gradually making adjustments to your daily routine to accommodate caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, having open conversations with your family about the impending changes can help set realistic expectations and distribute caregiving tasks among family members, which can alleviate some of the pressure on any single individual. In contrast, for crisis mode, preparation entails having an emergency plan in place, which includes identifying immediate medical contacts, understanding legal documents like power of attorney, and setting up a support network that can be mobilized quickly. This preparedness can help reduce the overwhelming nature of sudden caregiving demands and ensure that you can provide effective care without neglecting your own well-being.

Know Your Own Limits

Despite how much you might want to be the sole person responsible for the care of your loved one, it isn’t realistic to consider yourself the only person qualified or willing to care for your elderly family member. That’s why HelpGuide.org recommends finding others within your family or community that can help you at various times. Friends, family, or care professionals could all pitch in and give you a hand when there are things you can’t handle all on your own. And it’s more than okay to ask for help when you need it. Those who know you and your situation will likely be more than willing to lend you help when you ask for it.

Additionally, valuable resources are available online, including forums and articles that address “how to become a caregiver for family member“. These resources can provide practical advice and emotional support, helping you navigate your caregiving duties more effectively. While it’s possible to manage caregiving responsibilities on your own, it’s essential to strike a balance between determination and self-awareness. Recognizing your limitations is a strength, not a weakness. By utilizing external resources and accepting help from loved ones when necessary, you can provide better care for your elderly family member while maintaining your own well-being. Remember, being an effective caregiver often means knowing when to seek support. This approach allows you to sustain your caregiving efforts in the long term, ensuring the best possible care for your loved one.

Don’t Forget About Taking Care of You Too

In addition to caring for your loved one, it’s important not to forget about yourself in the mix. Caregiver.org shares that when caregivers forget about their own wants and needs because they get too overwhelmed with the person they’re caring for, they often develop poor eating and sleeping habits, forgo exercise and other healthy activities, and don’t take care of themselves when they’re sick or otherwise feeling unwell. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not going to have the strength to take care of your elderly family member either. So make sure you make yourself a priority and put your health ahead of other issues you may be dealing with.

If you’re about to become a caregiver or have recently become a caregiver to an older family member, use the tips mentioned above to help you quickly adjust to this new way of life.