Disclaimer: I am working with Midlife Boulevard to help spread awareness about National Family Caregivers Month. The opinions expressed in this post belong to me and aren’t indicative of the brands and/or companies mentioned.
I know a little something when it comes to being a family caregiver. Five years ago after my father was hospitalized for congestive heart failure and complications due to diabetes, I began taking care of him. I took him shopping and to run errands, I accompanied him on all of his medical appointments. I picked up his medicine and made sure his medical needs were met–the list goes on and on, all of this while working and taking care of my own family. As his only child (my parents were divorced), it was up to me to make sure that he was taken care of—I didn’t want to pawn off the responsibility to someone else.
At thirty-four years of age, I had no idea that I would become a caregiver to my fifty-six year old parent. But it happened. As demographics and lifestyles change, so do the ages of those who need caregivers or are called to give care.
My father passed away in 2012 after months of poor health. I am no longer a caregiver, but I understand the toll it can take on you. A lot of the attention is usually placed on the person who needs care, leaving many caregivers feeling overlooked. It’s not easy taking care of a sick or elderly parent—it is often exhausting work and can be stressful. Which is why I wanted to write about National Family Caregivers Month and give tips to those of you who are taking care of a family member or loved one. You are not alone.
Here are some tips family caregivers can use:
Take time out for yourself
Much of your time is probably dedicated to being a caregiver, which can be draining. Make sure to take some time out for you when you can. Indulge in your hobbies. Treat yourself to a spa day. Eat at one of your favorite restaurants. In order to be the best caregiver you can be, you have have to be taken care of as well. Self care goes a long way.
Ask for help
You don’t have to do this by yourself. Ask someone you know and trust for help. Perhaps they can run an errand or two for you. Ask if they can come by and sit with your parent or family member for an hour or two while you get out and get some fresh air. Other family members or loved ones should be able to chip in and help.
Talk to others
There are plenty of caregiver support groups online and in real life filled with people who are going through the same things that you are. Other family caregivers who can give you support and lend a listening ear when needed. Make sure to use these resources and attend these meetings when you can to get support.
Be time effective when you can
Perhaps your family member or loved one’s insurance allows for the mailing of prescriptions or medical supplies. This can help you cut down on time driving around picking up medicine. Some doctors can perform house calls on those patients that need it. Try to find ways to save time and make it easier for you.
You can also bookmark AARP’s online Caregiving Resource Center. It is a community filled with various tools to help you.
Below is a video which so eloquently translates the cycle of caregiving. Oftentimes the ones who received care from a parent as a child ends up being the caregiver to the parent. It is a beautiful display of the joys attached to being a family caregiver.
I cherish each and every moment I had with my dad as his caregiver. It was a tough job, but one I was honored to perform.
To all of you caregivers, I salute you. Thank you for everything that you do.