Poor health can be debilitating; it can make a perfectly able person dependent on others for performing even the smallest of tasks. It can be equally heartbreaking for you as a family member to watch them lose their strength and completely be at your mercy.
Caregiving is an intrinsic quality, and it manifests itself in such selfless ways, especially when a loved one is suffering and is in dire need of it. Sometimes it’s purely out of love and respect for the ill and is an act of kindness towards them, but other times it can be a duty or a moral obligation one has to fulfill, but regardless of those aspects, you need to be extremely proficient at it because at the end of the day someone’s health is on the line.
However, being simply good at your job and being an expert are two different things. Since caregiving often becomes a full-time job for people who have a loved one suffering from a serious illness, it needs to be approached with utmost dedication and professionalism. This blog guides you on becoming a professional caregiver for your loved one.
Who is a ‘Caregiver’?
A caregiver extends help to people in need of assistance in carrying out personal activities such as a child, an elderly, or a sick person.
There are varying degrees of caregiving; it depends on how much the other person can do themselves and how much they require your help. It can range from running a few errands for someone to fully taking care of the house or the person involved.
If you have the responsibility of being a caregiver, these are some things that you need to be mindful of:
1. Take Care of Yourself First
This might sound cliché, but this is one point that can’t be stressed enough. However rewarding and fulfilling, caregiving can also be bone-breaking and emotionally taxing. It is, hence, important to look after yourself so that you can efficiently take care of the one dependent on you.
If you’re not sleeping or eating well, it will affect your energy levels, and you’re bound to feel lethargic. Then you may not be able to do your job properly, and in caregiving duties, even the smallest of neglect can have a big impact. So do everything to keep your health and spirits high, so you don’t end up experiencing caregiver burnout.
Eat, rest and sleep well, talk to somebody if it gets overwhelming, join a support group, and don’t feel guilty for doing things for yourself.
2. Study the Disease
It’s crucial to have an in-depth knowledge of the disease you’re dealing with and know what you need to do to help your loved one. Diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc., all may require different kinds and levels of caregiving.
Some things are universal and remain the same for every patient suffering from a disease, like requiring assistance with daily activities such as cleaning, eating, bathing, etc. However, some things are unique to patients depending on their situation; hence it is important to be aware of those needs so you can take care of your loved one in the best way possible.
3. Follow a Routine
Following a caregiving routine is incumbent when caring for somebody with a serious illness. A routine can help you manage stress and ensure everything is being properly taken care of.
It is important to stick with a routine as most patients need to have fixed sleeping hours and fixed timings for food and medicine. A routine will also structure your day, and you’ll be better able to find time for yourself without compromising on the needs of the sick person.
Constant monitoring and assessing your loved one’s health is very important to see if the symptoms are aggravating or not and check if they require medical attention. A professional caregiver is wary of all the changes—for the better or worse and is prepared to go the extra mile if required.
You should keenly observe your loved ones and how they behave in their day-to-day lives; is there a significant change in their energy levels or mood? Are they eating less? Have they lost or gained a significant amount of weight in a short period? If the medications are helping the condition or having side effects?
If there are concerns, it is important to address them in the next appointment with their doctor.
5. Seek External Support
Caregiving is a demanding job, whether you are doing it out of love or taking it as a responsibility. It can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health, so it is important to ask for help if you feel like you have had it to the brink. You can ask some other family member or a friend to help you so you can have a day to yourself.
If you are stuck somewhere and don’t know what to do, don’t shy away from asking a professional for their advice.
6. Read and Learn
You can also read various books and articles to learn how to deal with what you’re going through. You can also read up on how to become a caregiver for your loved one and which routine to adopt to make the process of caregiving efficient.
I, Patrick Palmer, am a caregiving and cancer research advocate. I have written books to support for caregivers of cancer patients and other diseases to help them prepare to be a caregiver.
My books ‘A Husband’s Guide to Hands-On Caregiving’ and ‘Are You Prepared to be a Caregiver’ can help you understand the process and boost your morale to get through this difficult journey. Click here to know more about my journey or get the books from here.