Americans are crazy about caring. A 2017 survey found that 22.3% of adults provided care to a friend or family member during the previous 30 days.

Caretaking is one of the most compassionate and meaningful activities you can do. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy. 

What should lie at the core of your caretaking? What little things can you do to make your parent’s life more comfortable? How can you take care of yourself? 

Answer these questions and you can become a healthy and great caretaker. Here is your comprehensive guide.

Affirm Your Parent 

Your parent may be aging, but they have self-awareness. They may feel insecure or concerned that they are exhausting you and their other family members. 

Do whatever you can to put them at ease. If they express their feelings to you, tell them that you are happy to take care of them. Redirect their attention to a beloved memory or an activity the two of you can do. 

Make some small gestures so they feel comfortable. You can put their wheelchair by their bed before they wake up so they can slide right into it. You can put their favorite music on as they walk into a room. 

If your parent makes a request, you should try to fulfill it. But you may not be able to fulfill everything by yourself. Ask for help or try to find an alternative that puts your parent at ease.

Get the Right Tools

Learning how to be a good caregiver means learning where to find the right tools. Each case is different so the tools you will need are different. 

Spend some time looking at equipment online. Visit websites like to find information about mobility tools and other devices. 

You don’t have to get elaborate technology. Basic things like a medication dispenser and an alarm clock are all you need. 

Your parent’s health insurance plan may cover pieces of equipment. Medicare covers most forms of durable medical equipment, which help improve the quality of life in a home setting.

Yet it doesn’t cover everything, and private insurance packages may be more restrictive. You must talk to your insurance company before you start buying anything. Think about a way you can pay out of pocket should you have to.

Create Experiences

Being a family caretaker isn’t just about giving medical treatments to your parent. You are still their child, and you should have some fun with them. 

If your parent is up for it, you can take them on a day trip somewhere. Even a trip to the store can invigorate them and create positive memories. 

If you must stay at home, you can do many different things. You can watch a movie, play a card game, and cook dinner together. You can have a conversation over tea or coffee, recalling old memories or talking about recent developments. 

Commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Honor family traditions on these occasions and try to invite some other people over. 

The key is to create some sense of normalcy. Your parent should not feel confined to their home or unable to do anything. The more normal things seem, the better your parent will be.

Accept Help

There is no expectation that you should do everything on your own. Many caregiver tips and tricks require multiple people in order to work. In order to give your parent the health services they need, you need approval from a doctor and help from a nurse. 

Your relatives and friends may want to help you out in some way. Some people may offer token gestures like bringing food or saying hello to your parent. These gestures may not be profound, but you should always accept them. 

Other people may want to help out with frequent or significant gestures. Incorporate them into your caregiver routines. Let them take charge of activities they know best like cooking. 

Make Healthy Goals 

Setting goals can encourage a person and help them develop more productive behaviors. You should help your parent to make reasonable and achievable goals. 

Consider goals like completing household chores and talking to friends. Turning routines into goals can help your parent focus on them, even when they are struggling. 

You can get more elaborate. Your parent can try to complete a work of art or write a letter to someone.

But don’t force your parent to do anything they don’t want to do or can’t do. Bear in mind your parent’s limitations, including emotional and psychological ones.

Spot the Signs of Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout can occur to any caregiver at any time. It is a significant mental and physical health condition. Burnout can destroy someone’s self-esteem and cause them to lose focus on their own problems. 

In general, it comes when a caregiver feels like they are under a lot of strain. They may be assuming a lot of responsibilities, or they may be the only person helping their parent.

Warning signs include intense feelings of anxiety, exhaustion, and depression. A caregiver may not be able to relax, even when they try to. 

A caregiver may put all of themselves into offering care for their parent. This can cause them to neglect their own health. They may skip meals, stay up late, or avoid friends and relatives. 

As burnout gets worse, physical symptoms may start to develop. Someone may suffer from headaches and body aches. They may feel tired all the time, even after they sleep well. 

In rare cases, someone with burnout may turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. This can trigger a dangerous dependency that renders the person dependent on medical help themselves.

The signs of burnout are similar to the signs of other mental health conditions. Anyone who experiences burnout should go to their doctor for help.

Take Breaks

Taking breaks is an important activity for any caregiver. Anyone who has burnout must take a break in order to deal with their symptoms. But even caregivers who do not have burnout should take breaks. 

Breaks do not mean vacations. You can choose to focus on your work and other personal responsibilities at home. But you can also go on vacation and find opportunities to escape from what is going on. 

When you return to caretaking, you should find minibreaks along the way. Schedule a time every day when you can relax and do something you like to do. Try to do something fun over the weekend.

Many caregivers feel reluctant to take breaks because they feel they are abandoning their parents. But your parent wants what is best for you. They will understand that you need to take care of yourself and will be back to them soon.

Consider Your Options

Many different therapies can help your parent. You should sit down with a team of medical professionals and talk with them about what to do. 

Palliative care is a system of therapies that helps people confront chronic conditions. The therapies are not curative. But they can restore mobility and boost someone’s spirits. 

You should find at least one palliative therapy for your parent. You can have them talk to a chaplain or an art therapist. 

If their health is declining rapidly, your parent can receive hospice care. Hospice facilities provide treatments that help patients feel more comfortable during their last months. 

Understand That There Are No Permanent Solutions

One reason why caregiver burnout occurs is the relentless nature of old age. In spite of all the caregiver tips a person performs, their loved one will get old and their health will get worse. Health conditions like diabetes and cancer may be irreversible. 

You have to accept that there is only so much you can do. The care you give may be limited to making your parent feel loved and respected. You may not be able to treat their pain, let alone provide a cure. 

That does not mean that your work is insignificant. You are making your parent’s life meaningful and special. They appreciate what you do and they love you.

The Essentials of Caretaking 

Caretaking for a parent is based on affirming them. Find medical tools that make their lives easier and create cheerful experiences for them. 

But you must affirm yourself. You should accept help when you need it and take care of yourself when you have burnout. You must take a break whenever you are feeling too tired. 

A person’s health will decline as they get older. You should try to accept that. Find joy and take pride in the things you do to make your parent comfortable. 

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