Tips for Caregivers
Tips for making caregiving easier
Most caregivers feel overwhelmed at some point. It’s natural and understandable. It is also manageable. These tips can help you get the support you need while caring for someone near the end of life.
Caring for the patient
- Learn as much as you can about your patient’s illness. The more you know, the less anxiety you’ll have and the more effective you will be.
- Establish good communications with care providers. With the patient’s permission, health professionals can have frank conversations with caregivers about treatment, including prescription drugs. Do not be afraid to seek a second opinion.
- Know your options. Some conditions can be managed at home, while some require a hospital or skilled nursing facility. The person you help should make their own decisions about treatment options, where they live, and how treatment is paid for as much as possible. If you are authorized to make decisions on their behalf, you have a special responsibility to ask questions about what can be expected.
- Trust your instincts. Remember, you probably know your loved one best. Never ignore what doctors tell you, but listen to your gut.
- Encourage your loved one’s independence. Caregiving does not mean doing everything for your loved one. Be open to technologies and strategies that allow both you and your loved one to be as independent as possible.
Key resources for caregivers
- Seek other caregivers. Take advantage of available counseling and support offered to caregivers. Support groups and one-on-one counseling can help you deal with your feelings, and can connect you with resources.
- Other places you can turn for caregiver support include:
- Family members or friends who will listen without judgment
- Your church, temple, or other place of worship
- National caregiver organizations
- Organizations specific to your family member’s illness or disability
- Consider respite care. Respite care services may include help with a specific task or having someone provide care while you take time off.
- Adult day care centers. These facilities can provide needed breaks during the day and provide you and your patient welcome diversions and activities.
Keeping yourself whole
- Know your limits. Be realistic about how much of your time and yourself you can give. Set clear limits, and communicate those limits to doctors, family members, and other people involved.
- Stay social. Make it a priority to visit regularly with other people. Don’t let yourself become isolated.
- Do things you enjoy. Laughter and joy can help keep you going when you face trials, stress, and pain.
- Maintain balance in your life. Don’t give up activities that are important to you, such as your work or your hobbies.
- Give yourself a break. Take regular breaks from caregiving, and give yourself an extended break at least once a week.
- Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings. This will give you perspective and serve as a way to release strong feelings.
- Feed your spirit. Pray, meditate, exercise, or do another activity that makes you feel part of something greater.
- Watch out for signs of depression and anxiety, and get professional help if needed.