Being a caregiver – or needing a caregiver – will affect most of us at some point in our lives. If you are chronically ill or disabled, what can you do to find the right caregiver – for yourself or a loved one – and what can you do to keep from getting ‘burnout’ if you are the caregiver.
Finding a Caregiver
Be as independent as possible. But, if you are struggling with everyday tasks, getting some help can help you. Here are some general guidelines to consider before you arrange for a caregiver:
- Decide if you will rely on family members or hire a caregiver. If you decide to hire someone, consider whether they are licensed and have liability insurance.
- Find someone you are comfortable with. Do they communicate well? Are there language barriers? Do you enjoy their company?
- Form a tag team. If extensive care is needed, more than one caregiver may be needed. It can also be helpful to have a back-up in case of emergency.
- Set clear expectations. Will the caregiver cook? Clean? Run errands? Make sure you have a list of duties and keep the relationship professional if you have hired someone.
Being a Caregiver
Many caregivers, especially family members, report symptoms of depression, increased stress and the general feeling of being overburdened when caring for a chronically ill or disabled patient. Here are some tips to help you avoid the emotional and physical strain of caregiving. There are many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one
- Find a caregiver support group.
- Maintain a sense of humor.
- Be assertive about getting the type of support you need.
- Develop self-efficacy: a person’s belief about his or her ability to organize and execute courses of action to manage given situations.
- Reach out for help in the family or community.
- Learn to prioritize your tasks so your load is manageable.
- Take care of your health. Make sure to eat healthy, get some exercise and enough sleep.
- Give yourself credit for what you do well regarding caregiving activities.
- Incorporate joy into your life. Do things you enjoy on a daily basis: listen to music, garden, go see a movie, or take a walk.
- Start a journal. Writing will help you express emotion and regain perspective.
- Learn to relax (it takes practice).
Being a responsible patient or caregiver means taking care of yourself first. If you are the patient, your caregiver will know how to give you the most freedom possible. If you are the caregiver, you will provide compassion and healthy support for the patient as you meet your own needs.