According to reports, there are around 34 million Americans who provide unpaid care to a 50+ year-old friend or relative in their home. Of those, nearly 10 percent of the caregivers are over the age of 75. And if you ask any of them if their job is easy, you’re likely to be met with a confused look.
At Concordia, we understand the rewards and difficulties of caring for a senior loved one on your own. And while we want you to know that we are always here if needed, we also want your loved one to remain as independent as possible, for as long as possible.
So with the New Year just around the corner, we made a quick list of New Year’s resolution ideas for nonprofessional caregivers. If you have any other ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments section below!
1. Take better care of yourself: When you are healthier, you can be a better caregiver to your loved one. Start small by getting an extra hour of sleep each night, making better food choices and taking a brisk walk a few times a week.
2. Ask for help: And not just general help. Reach out to closer friends and family members and ask them to do specific tasks. Everyone has their own gifts, so let them be of service. For example, if your friend wouldn’t be comfortable sitting with your loved one while you run errands, ask if he/she would pick up groceries for you.
3. Be patient: Often easier said than done, we know. But practicing better patience is essential on many levels. Your level of patience (stress) can affect your relationship with the person you care for, your relationship with family, your status at work, your personal wellbeing and so much more. Figure out what tends to set you off and find ways to minimize or better cope with those triggers.
4. Reconnect with friends and family: As a caregiver, you may have accidentally neglected to maintain some of the positive relationships you’ve had with friends and family. Make a pact this year to take a few hours every week or so to reconnect with some of those people. It’s good for your mental wellbeing AND you grow the network of potential helpers in your life. Along those lines, consider joining a caregiver support group to make some new friends with people who understand what you’re going through. Concordia of Fox Chapel and Concordia at Cabot offer these support groups – and they are free and open to the public.
5. Start a journal/photo album of good times: Caring for a loved one is rewarding, but it can also be difficult and frustrating – and it’s easy to let those emotions shroud the good times. Start a scrapbook or journal to document your loved one’s life, including the good moments you currently have together. Not only can this be beneficial and therapeutic for you, but it can also provide you and your loved one with a project to work on together to bring you closer.
6. Get organized: When you care for someone with one or more health conditions, the sheer volume of medical appointments and paperwork can be overwhelming. Resolve to better track, follow and document everything this year. As the main advocate for your loved one, being better organized can help you make better decisions regarding their care.
Remember that you will probably make a mistake or two, and you might even have thoughts/feelings that make you uncomfortable at times. And that’s ok. Be proud and remember that what you are doing for your loved one is selfless, caring and kind.
Getting professional help for the care of your loved one does not mean that you have failed. Consider an adult day services program like the one we have at Concordia. Many caregivers will use the service for a few hours a couple days a week to allow time to care for themselves. You can also consider having a personal care aide come into your loved one’s home to help. Concordia Private Care can help with everything from bathing and dressing to housekeeping and meal preparation and everything in between.
For more information, call our administrative headquarters at 1-888-352-1571, or message us through the Contact form on our website. From the entire Concordia family – have a blessed 2016!
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