Knowledge is power, especially for a caregiver. There’s no shortage of information available. With agencies, support groups and professionals online and offline, answers to nearly every question are out there. The only problem is finding what you need! It takes time to track down the information you need, and time is a precious thing to a busy caregiver.
To help as you tackle the daily duties of caregiving, I’ve compiled a list of important tips and tricks to better take care of yourself and your loved one. Keep these in mind, and your journey as a caregiver can be harmonious and satisfying.
1. In case of an emergency, remain calm.
Call 911 and answer their questions to the best of your ability. Usually, they first ask what is the emergency and where you are located. Keep your address posted near your phone as it can be hard to remember during a crisis.
They might also ask your relationship to the victim, the physical condition of the victim (including clothing). They might also ask for a description of YOU so the responders can identify you at the scene. If a vehicle is involved, be ready to describe the vehicle.
Never hang up while on the line. Answer all questions and follow instructions until the dispatcher tells you the call is completed. Have a list of important information for all members of the household posted nearby. This should include allergies, medications, name and number of an emergency contact, etc.
2. To find answers for common caregiving questions, try browsing the internet.
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing can provide answers to just about anything if you know how to ask. Simply go to the search engine, type in a word or question and hit enter. When the pages comes up, choose a link that most closely corresponds to your question or problem.
When possible, look at more than one source to get the best understanding of the subject. If you’re having trouble finding the right information, try wording your question differently. Putting quotation marks (“) at the beginning and end of your question can help narrow down your search as well.
3. Make a list of phone numbers and internet resources you frequently use.
Save it on your computer and have a copy printed out where it’s easily accessible. Fill it with the names and numbers of doctors, hospital, clinics, school, closest family members, agencies and other professionals from healthcare providers to plumbers, banks, lawyers, etc.
4. Familiarize yourself with the health condition of the person you are taking care of as well as the common symptoms of the disease.
This allows you to better communicate with healthcare professionals and representatives of all agencies involved in the person’s care.
5. If you are the caregiver, take care of yourself.
You cannot serve yourself or your charge if you are suffering from physical or emotional problems. Discover the many ways you can improve your own well being through the help of others and through various other practices. Use meditation, relaxation, massage, aromatherapy, journaling, respite and the support of other caregivers who understand you and your concerns.
6. Be aware of your own needs and take early action when you notice your own well being deteriorating.
That is why maintaining a daily journal might be of great value. It allows you to better monitor any changes with you or your charge’s condition.
7. Don’t neglect a sore back.
Schedule a visit to a chiropractor early, not after you can barely move. Get regular massages with supportive essential oil applications to keep your muscles and tendons more relaxed. Wear a back brace when lifting the patient and other heavy objects.
8. Besides keeping tabs on your physical health, also pay attention to your emotions.
Caregivers seem to develop periods of depression more often than those not in a caregiver role. This is understandable because of the many emotions which play into feelings of depression.
Address symptoms early. There are very effective essential oils which in clinical studies have shown to lift depression. If you or others notice depression to deepen, please seek professional help. You can explore this further by going here. You can learn even more by subscribing to my free 7 day mini-course on emotions.
9. Take frequent breaks.
That means daily shorter breaks as well as longer breaks which are best if away from the location for caregiving. It also means to take respites of several days or weeks away from your caregiving duties so you can recharge your own batteries and better serve the patient in the long run. You can read more about that in my e-book – Essential Caregiver: Your Action Guide To Caregiver Support.
10. Know that you are not alone.
There are many people ready to be supportive in many ways. Make your needs known by asking for support from family, friends, neighbors, agencies, support groups, churches and GOD.
11. Take inventory of your situation.
Consider your health, your feelings, your relationships, your finances, your community, your dreams and hopes. Then focus upon each of them. Divide a piece of paper in 3 equal sections by drawing 3 lines top to bottom. In Section 1, write what is bad about the situation. In Section 2, write what is good about it. In Section 3, write what you can do to make it better or change it.
By following these steps, you will be better prepared to handle whatever life throws your way. Hope is alive within all of us. Together, we can care for each other and those we love.