Family Caregiver Tips

senior caregiver and spouseAccording to a 2015 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP study there were over 34 million Americans caring for an adult aged fifty and older. So their numbers will increase as “Boomers” age. First “tip” is to share the responsibility.  So, ask other family members and friends or hire help. Going ‘solo’ as a primary caregiver affects health and well-being. It also, makes you a less effective caregiver.

 Taking Care of Yourself 

This is most important. If you don’t care for your own health needs, then you cannot be the best caregiver you want to be.  So keep your doctor appointments. Eat and exercise properly so you can be strong.  Get support, from family, friends, professionals or Support Groups. Stay in touch with your friends. Keep doing what you enjoy. Be mindful of your own mood and mental/emotional health.  Depression can wear you down. Medicare covers counseling. Take breaks. You are doing a difficult job with long hours, make time for yourself. Accept help when it is offered and ask for it when it is needed. Then pat yourself on the back for doing a tough job. Self-criticism is not helpful.

Being Organized is Very Helpful

Keeping medical files and information up to date and easy to locate is helpful. Same for your legal documents. Have updated Living Wills, Medical Surrogates and Durable Power of Attorney documents. Make sure to have these documents easily accessible and copies with your doctor, lawyer, and banker and trusted family members. If your adult son or daughter is also your POA they must know where to find your important information. The easier you make it for them, the better help they can be to you in an emergency.

Technology is Your Friend

Be receptive to technology, it can make life a lot easier. You don’t need to become a tech wizard. Knowing how to order things online can save you time and money. You may buy in bulk and it is all delivered to your home. Sensors and other “Smart” gadgets can help with monitoring your loved one’s medication, movement and routines. One day we may all have a personal robot tending to us but so far it is a spouse, son, daughter or other family member who is caring for a loved one. Because you can look up everything you need and want to learn online you’ll become a better caregiver. Safety will improve and so will your peace of mind.