National Family Caregivers Month takes place every November. It was created in 2014 to honor family caregivers. In the US, over 65 million people provide unpaid care for an elderly, chronically ill, or disabled family member. Each caregiver spends an average of twenty hours per week providing care for their loved one. If you are a caregiver, you can get stressed and overwhelmed at times, so here are four important tips for caregivers to make your life easier.
1. Tips for Caregivers – First, Take Care of Yourself
If you’re sitting in an airplane seat and suddenly an oxygen mask is in front of you, what should you do? As flight attendants have instructed us all, the first rule is you put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help anyone else. This illustrates the point that, if you are a caregiver, you can’t effectively help the person you are caring for if you are tired, overly stressed, or in poor health. Caring for yourself is perhaps the most essential aspect of being a caregiver. When your own needs (physical, mental, and emotional) are met, the person you are caring for will also benefit.
- Caregiving involves a lot of hard work, so be sure to take regular respite breaks.
2. Keep Medical Information Organized
Organize medical documents and information so that it’s up-to-date and easy to find, including:
- Personal health history
- Family health history
- Notes on doctors’ visits
- Test results
- Summaries of any hospitalizations and discharges
- Pharmacy printouts of prescribed medications
- Reactions to medications
- Medical insurance forms
- Legal documents, e.g., living will, medical power of attorney
Tips for caregivers include using tools like Mayo Health Manager to organize and store health information and be prepared for emergencies.
3. Be Open to Technologies
Tips for caregivers in this digital age include making use of the internet to research health information. There is also benefit in participating in online social activity related to health. Moreover, many technical innovations have recently appeared on the scene to help caregivers, including:
- GPS Trackers – A tracker is worn on the wrist or attached to clothing and pinpoints the wearer’s exact location. Some devices can alert a caregiver when their loved one ventures outside of a specified local area.
- Medication Reminders – Tools such as MedMinder and TabSafe can set reminders for when to take medications. They can even alert a caregiver when someone forgets to take their meds.
- Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) – Someone wearing a PERS can press a button to contact a call center in an emergency situation. Most devices are only wearable inside the home, but some will also work outside.
- Home Monitoring – Wireless home monitoring systems can alert a caregiver when something unusual has happened. For example, if a senior has been in the bathroom for an unusually long time, it could mean they have fallen.
4. Tips for Caregivers – Finally, Get Some Help
Give yourself a large amount of credit for doing the best you can in a very tough job. However, you should never feel that you have to take on a caregiver’s responsibilities all on your own. Make sure to involve other members of your family where possible. Also, online sites such as LotsaHelpingHands provide support networks for caregivers looking to connect with others when they need assistance.
- Tips for caregivers in or near Columbia, SC. Caring Healthcare can take some of the caregiver burdens off your shoulders. We provide in-home care for seniors, children with special needs, and other individuals with special healthcare requirements. Talk to us today to see how we can help you.