We’ve talked quite a bit in recent months about the isolation caregivers can feel and how it accumulates over time. Generally, it seems it’s only after several months of taking on the role that caregivers start to reach out for support or solutions.
But the seeds for this isolation are sown in the first days and influenced greatly by the approach we take and the attitude we bring to this life-changing responsibility.
Quick Tips for New Caregivers
A few suggestions for new caregivers are in order, so we asked some of our professionals for their thoughts.
1) Think Big-Picture
It’s tempting – and often just expedient – to go with the simplest solution to a new challenge. But remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
We all need to take a breath from time to time and remind ourselves what the objective is: supporting the safety, security and – equally important – independence of someone we love. The rest are details, so sometimes it’s best to be flexible and keep options open.
2) Acknowledge Strengths and Weaknesses
We don’t have to think of caregiving as something inevitably lonely. It’s a team sport that requires working together. Family members and other loved ones sometimes feel left out when they aren’t asked or even permitted to contribute. Others feel put upon because they are tasked with responsibilities without regard to their own strengths and abilities.
Short version: Let others do what they can do and feel comfortable doing; and ask for help with those things that are perhaps outside your skillset.
THE CARING HEARTS CAREGIVER PERSONAS TOOL CAN HELP YOU IDENTIFY CAREGIVING ROLES IN YOUR FAMILY. LEARN MORE »
3) Teams Communicate
No matter how well intentioned, the efforts of you and the rest of your team will be hampered if you don’t collaborate. That requires open and honest communication, not confrontation. It also means accepting some opinions and concerns as just that, not as personal attacks. If a sibling says she can’t be the one to drive Mom to the appointment 30 miles away, that doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t want to spend the time. It could be that she doesn’t trust her own driving or ability to assist from the car to the door.
Be ready and willing to talk things through and be open to different opinions.
4) Remember the Objective
As I mentioned above, the objective of caregiving is just that. When we make decisions and take actions to advance this calling, we do well by our responsibilities.
It may feel from time to time that some of those around you are more interested in control or credit than in actually contributing to the effort. In ALMOST all cases, this is a communication issue more than anything else. Even so, there will be times when the role of caregiver leaves all of us feeling alone. In such times, it’s important to remember a very important fact:
We’re in it together.
At Caring Hearts we work with families in many different situations, and while no two are exactly alike, the one thing that all share is the need for a support system. If you’re not finding it among your family or friends, look for groups at your place of worship, community center or even network through health care professionals to find one that meets your needs.
You aren’t alone.
To share your own tips for finding support, join our conversation on Facebook.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and just want to understand what needs your loved one has or some potential labor savers, call us for a free assessment at (866) 721-3499 or submit the form on our contact page. There’s never any obligation because, like I said, we’re in it together.