By now most of you know my story….30-something woman, B.S. degree in Chemistry, full-time caregiver for 11 years. How did I manage to successfully care for my grandmother and keep my sanity during the entire process? It wasn’t easy. I applied the same trial and error mentality I had used in my Chemistry courses to create a caregiving strategy. The following day-to-day tips will help you create a balance between your caregiving duties and personal life. Everyone needs balance!
1.) Create a Routine
Although each day as a caregiver has unexpected twists, try to create a routine that’s beneficial to you and your loved-one. An environment becomes less stressful when those involved know what to expect. Feed meals and give medications at specified times each day. Try following an effective sleep schedule. A customized sleep schedule is vital in avoiding caregiver stress and burnout!
2.) Make Time for Fun Activities
My grandmother was house-bound, so we spent A LOT of time inside the same four walls. Planning fun activities enabled us to laugh and be active while being limited to the home. Those activities included baking cookies, watching her favorite television shows, dancing or rolling (she was in a wheelchair) around to her favorite music, going outside in the warmer months to plant flowers and mulch the flower beds. These little things kept her happy and me sane!
3.) Remember Yourself
When caring for an ailing loved-one, it’s easy to forget yourself. Your most important concern is the well-being of your patient. But, try to dedicate some time to your own personal life. An unhealthy caregiver is not beneficial to themselves or the patient. Allow 30 minutes of YOU-TIME a day. These 30 minutes may be available early in the morning, before your loved-one wakes or during your patient’s afternoon nap. Whenever you can sneak a little time for yourself, DO IT!
4.) Be Happy
Caregiving is a stressful situation and if given the opportunity your loved-one nor you would choose this life path. Whatever the circumstance, your loved-one is dependent upon you for their well-being. Never make them feel like a burden. No matter how stressful the situation or lifestyle becomes, try to keep a smiling face. It provides your loved-one with security and reassurance.
5.) Ask For Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Short-term breaks can alleviate a lot of stress. If given the opportunity, ask someone to relieve you from your caregiving duties. Take an extended lunch break or arrange a date night with the hubby. It sounds small, but those few hours will make the coming days SO much easier.
Caregiving is a stressful but rewarding experience. As a caregiver you have the ability to create an amazing bond with your patient. I’m so glad I chose to be my grandmother’s caregiver! We created an unbreakable bond filled with happy memories. GOOD LUCK!