Caring for the Caregiver: 6 Ways to Get Help and Improve Your Health
Caring for the caregiver is a key component in long-term caregiving. Without help, you’re more likely to become exhausted and severely stressed. That often leads to serious health problems and limits your ability to care for others.
This is why it’s so important to find help for caregivers so you can take regular breaks and have the time to maintain or improve your own health.
It might take a little work to create the network of support that you need, but the positive effect on your health and well-being makes it worth it in the long run.
It helps to be flexible and combine help from family, friends, hired caregivers, paid services, and volunteers to get the caregiving help that you need at prices you can afford.
Here are six ways to get help with caregiving, so you’ll have the time you need to take those well-deserved breaks to rest, recharge and keep going.
Ask Family and Close Friends
Sometimes family or friends don’t know where to start or what they could do. Others might feel that you don’t want or need any help. And some people just don’t realize how much time, energy and sacrifice caregiving really takes.
To get more help from family or friends, have calm, open one-on-one conversations and let them know that you need their assistance.
Make it easier for them to help by asking them to do things that play to their strengths, like running errands, doing light housekeeping, taking care of simple home repairs, doing online research, etc.
If you need help with hands-on caregiving, ease someone into it by having them shadow you, learn and get comfortable for a little while before asking them to do it on their own.
Hire Help for Non-Caregiving Tasks
Being a caregiver includes a lot more responsibility than just caring for the person themselves. Their living environment and essential supplies also must be maintained. Getting help with non-caregiving tasks takes those things off your to do list and means more time for yourself.
That could include hiring someone to buy groceries and household supplies, getting help with laundry, hiring a housekeeper, buying a meal service for part of the week, hiring a gardener, having a handyman come once a month, etc.
Hire an In-Home Caregiver
As your older adult’s care needs increase, they’ll need more and more help with activities of daily living like eating, bathing, dressing and moving around.
These activities can grow to consume your days and nights and leave you exhausted. Hiring an in-home caregiver will give you some much-needed help so you can take regular breaks.
Having in-home caregiving help is especially important if your older adult isn’t sleeping well and you’re not getting enough rest at night. Having someone take over a few nights a week or getting longer naps during the day will make a big difference in your health and quality of life.
Enroll in an Adult Day Program
Adult day programs are places where seniors can go during the day for care, nutritious meals and engaging social activities. These programs also give you much-needed breaks to reduce stress and prevent burnout.
In addition, older adults often benefit from the added social interaction and the cost is much lower than hiring an in-home caregiver. Many day programs even offer transportation services to shuttle seniors to and from home.
Use Respite Care
Respite care is another way to get a much-needed break from caregiving and protect yourself from being overwhelmed by caregiver stress and burnout. It can also help you keep your older adult at home longer by giving you the breaks you need to keep going in the long term.
Respite care is typically a paid service offered by for-profit companies, but some state and non-profit organizations also offer free or low-cost respite programs for seniors who qualify.
Find Local Volunteer Programs
Many cities and counties also have local volunteer programs or service organizations that provide help or companionship for seniors. Any help you can get will give you a little more time for yourself.
Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and ask them to connect you with volunteer services or organizations that could help with caregiving.
Are you a caregiver? How do you take care of yourself so that you can continue to care for your loved one? Have you tried any of these ways to take breaks from caregiving, so you can rest and recharge? Which method or combination of methods has worked best for you? Please share your experience and tips in the comments below.
Connie Chow is a founder of DailyCaring.com, a website and email newsletter with free, practical caregiving tips for families caring for older adults. Her mission is to connect caregivers with trustworthy advice and resources. Connie’s insights are in The Huffington Post, BlogHer, About.com, and more. Sign up for helpful caregiving advice at DailyCaring.com.