Caregiving is harder than it looks, and most people don’t realize the challenges involved until they’re in the role. If you’re a caregiver, in the midst of these challenges, it’s easy to lose sight of how to best support the person you’re caring for. Each person needs support in a different way, but there are some commonalities that apply across the board.
If you’re a caregiver and you want to support the person you’re caring for to the best of your ability, try the following tips.
1. Sign up to be a paid caregiver
Getting paid to caregive will support the person you’re caring for, whether it’s a friend or relative. It’s not just about getting extra money. When you get paid for your time, you can use that money to pay your bills and cover lost income from the days you’ve had to take off work to perform your caregiving duties.
The easiest way to get paid as a caregiver is to sign up to get paid by the state. If you live in New York, for example, you can become a paid caregiver through an organization like FreedomCare.
One of the biggest reasons people caregive for their loved ones is to ensure they receive care from someone familiar. People want familiar faces to care for them, and that can reduce the resistance some people feel about getting care. If there’s a chance you’ll have to stop caregiving because you aren’t getting paid, consider signing up to get paid through the state so your loved one will have someone they know handling their care.
2. Focus on patience
Patience is the single most important trait you could possess for caregiving. Depending on the needs of the person you’re caring for, you could find yourself in some trying situations. For instance, if they have Alzheimer’s, they might not remember simple things and you’ll need to repeat yourself several times in each conversation. To the other person, it’s always something new, and it’s important not to get frustrated and be patient when you have these repetitive conversations.
Another way patience supports the person you’re caring for is when things take longer than usual. For instance, if you’re taking them to a doctor’s appointment ten minutes down the road, it might take over an hour to get ready and into the car.
Without patience, you might give off the impression that you’re frustrated and try to rush them when they can’t go any faster. For someone who can’t move fast and relies on you to get around, that pressure of being rushed isn’t fun.
You might need to go through a whole routine before getting them into the car, like bathing, helping them to the toilet, getting them dressed, eating a meal, etc. With patience, it won’t matter how long it takes to get to an appointment ten minutes down the road, so you won’t be inclined to show any of that to them, which will support their emotional wellbeing.
3. Create a respite care plan
Caregivers need rest in order to stay emotionally and physically healthy. When caregivers get relief, it’s called respite care and it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself that ultimately benefits everyone.
According to an AARP/NAC study, only 14% of family caregivers get respite services. That means 86% of family caregivers are likely burned out or on the edge of burning out.
If you burn out, you won’t be able to give your full attention to what your person needs. This can negatively impact the care they receive. Creating a respite care plan for yourself (and any other caregivers) will help.
To create a respite plan, call a meeting with family members and other caregivers in your circle and talk about what you need. Ask other family members to pitch in and help with caregiving duties, even if it’s just a couple of hours each week. Every hour will help. During this meeting, create a plan to ensure each caregiver has adequate time off to rest and recover. If you can’t get everything covered within the family, then it’s time to hire an outside caregiver.
Be supportive in a way that your person needs
Remember that being supportive means supporting someone in a way that meets their needs. The tips outlined in this article will help, but always tailor your support to that person.