When you are the sole or primary caregiver for a loved one, it’s important to have both an emotional support system in place and assistance in handling the multitude of tasks effective caregiving requires. Here are three tips for primary caregivers:
Be specific when asking for assistance.
It may seem obvious to you the areas in which you could use a helping hand but others may be more inclined to pitch in when you ask them to help with a specific task. The demands of caregiving can be completely overwhelming so asking for help with a particular task at a particular time may be more likely to result in a commitment of assistance. For example, try requesting a family member bring a cooked meal to an aging parent on Tuesdays or assist with a scheduled medical appointment.
Don’t get stuck.
If a family member doesn’t agree to help with a task, try not to waste too much energy on frustration at the perceived lack of participation. Even if you think someone should be assisting you, there is really no way to force them and the sooner you realize this, the sooner you can move on and get help from another source. There are probably a multitude of reasons you are in the role of primary caregiver. Maybe you have better organizational skills or a sense of responsibility or even guilt. Whatever the reason, you’re in it and you need support. Start broadening the caregiving circle to include, friends, church members and even neighbors. Wherever there are people you trust who also care about your loved one, there is usually some level of support.
Use tools and solutions to ease stress and improve efficiency when caregiving. The alska connected caregiving tool empowers primary caregivers by giving them a secure method of storing and sharing vital information like medication lists, allergies, medical conditions and care updates.
Have a good disaster prevention plan.
It is so important you monitor your stress level and take action before things get completely overwhelming. Have at least two people you can talk to and receive emotional support from. Sometimes even a ten minute phone call with someone who understands and offers positive support can make all the difference and put things in perspective. Going it alone is a sure recipe for burnout and will bring your caregiving efforts to a quick and sometimes disastrous halt. Find and attend a local caregiver support group. The National Alliance for Caregiving is one resource that can help you find local, in-person, caregiver support groups as well as online support groups. You can also ask your employer what resources they provide for working caregivers.