Taking care of an ailing loved one can be an enormous task. A caregiver can be selected from among family members/close friends, or you can settle for a professional depending on the severity of the patient. A role as a caregiver means that a delicate person has been entrusted to you, which should be a validation of your abilities and compassion. Don’t lose yourself in caregiving to the point of forgetting yourself. Otherwise caregiver fatigue will gradually creep in and compromise your capacity to look after the patient. Here are some steps to help you avoid a burnout:
Establish a Routine
Prepare a weekly schedule of what needs to be done including shopping, cooking, bathing, dressing, walking, taking pills, doctor’s appointments and so on. Arrange the pills into doses. From there establish a daily routine. Patients respond better when they know what to expect.
Use Digital Organizers
There are simple Apps that you can install in your phone or computer to remind you of different activities. If the patient is still able to carry out some activities, you can install the App in their phone. For instance, the patient can be alerted by an alarm when it’s time for the next dose of pills. If the patient is not in a position to do anything, then the timers and reminders are for you.
Ask for Help
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Involve family members, friends and anyone else willing to lend a hand. For instance, someone can pick groceries on their way home from work. A neighbor can take the patient for a walk. The family can cook in bulk over the weekend and refrigerate/freeze the weeks supplies. Getting others involved makes your burden much lighter.
Identify a Soother
Some patients will demand your undivided attention due to the pain/discomfort that comes with their condition. Others suffering from mental conditions will be unpredictable and require constant attention. Irrespective of the condition, there is that one thing that will calm the patient. Some will respond well to music. Others to a massage. Others will be soothed by cuddling a pet. Try out different things until you identify that one thing that pacifies your loved one. Whenever the restlessness starts, you can ‘pop in’ the pacifier and carry on with your schedule.
Take Time for You
Your health and well-being is just as important in care-giving. Take time for yourself too. Get adequate sleep, even when it means to alter your sleeping schedule and take naps during the day. Don’t forget your hobbies. Read. Garden. Paint. Watch movies. Get online and keep yourself updated with the current affairs. Interact with others. If you come across a support group for caregivers; even better. Discuss what you’re going through and exchange ideas. This will refresh and reenergize you.
Care-giving can be unpredictable. Some days will be good and predictable. Others not so much. Either way do your best. Keep the doctor’s number close by. The patients may not say it, but they’re forever grateful to those who took care of them at their most vulnerable hour.