Often, when I am searching online for content to repost to Semafores’ social media feeds I find articles offering advice to help family caregivers. Sometimes it comes from professional caregivers or experts in the field, other times from family caregivers passing on the wisdom of their experience to others. Many offer advice on how to care for elderly relatives, others on caring for children with medical issues. Regardless of the point of view of the author or her intended audience much of the advice is the same. A few simple principles are repeated in many variations.
Take Care of Yourself
Caregiving can be emotionally, physically, and financially demanding. If you don’t take care of yourself properly you may find you are unable to care for others. As a caregiver you need rest, proper nutrition, and exercise. You need to maintain relationships with people besides the ones you are caring for. And you need to consider your current and future financial needs.
Get Help When You Need It
No one can be up and running 24/7 forever, and as much you might wish otherwise, no one is equally good at everything. Being an effective family caregiver requires help now and then. You may need advice, or you may need a break to attend to other responsibilities or simply to have a rest. Help may come from friends and family, from resources in the community at large, or from professional caregivers you bring in when they are needed. Whatever its source, help is needed for long term success as a family caregiver.
Much of being a successful family caregiver is attention to detail. It is important to plan, to record needed information where it can easily be retrieved, and to develop routines. This lets you get the everyday caregiving tasks done with a minimum of stress and helps you be prepared for the predictable emergencies.
Remember Why You Are a Caregiver
It can be easy to forget why you are caregiver when you are absorbed in the sometimes tedious and stressful tasks that caregiving requires. The simple reason is that you care for someone because you care about them. Keeping this in mind helps you stay positive about caregiving and helps keep in check the negative emotions that can come with any difficult responsibility.
Variations on this general advice can be found in many of the articles I’ve posted to social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) over the last year. A few recent examples are found at www.empowher.com/caregiving/content/4-ways-stay-positive-when-youre-caregiver, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9oPykx1Z7k, and http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/10/15/3-reasons-self-care-is-essential-for-caregivers, but there have been many others.
Just because advice is good doesn’t always mean it is easy to follow. At Semafores we’re hard at work on a suite of tools to help you follow this advice. Curi™ will offer caregiver planning tools to help you stay organized and care for yourself, as well as social caregiving tools that will help you get help when you need it and to be reminded of why you are a caregiver.