“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have,” said Margaret Mead, anthropologist.
What a fitting quote for a family caregiver. Without question, we can say that caregiving and a human touch have an impact on those who are receiving care. And, family caregivers are on the front lines providing this care for so many. Caregiving is beautiful, but it can be equally challenging and isolating.
To maintain a good attitude and find balance throughout the caregiving journey, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips, advice and encouragement from our community of caregivers. After all, who knows the role of caregiving better than you?
1. Find a place, person or activity you can go to for motivation and, inspiration.
Many caregivers find solace in their spirituality while others lean into a spouse or close friend to keep them motivated and inspired. Activities that can provide an inspirational message include walking, reading or soaking up Mother Nature. Once you find your inspiration, remember how to recreate it, because caregiving can continue to be isolating.
“Spending time with friends is always a good thing. It can help to re-center yourself and catch up at the same time.” – Sue
2. Practice self-care to avoid burnout. You can’t care for someone if you have an empty tank.
“For me, the most effective way to avoid caregiver burnout is to make sure everything is in place and taken care of prior to taking a well- deserved vacation. Being organized is also helpful for my self-care mentally.” – Kim
If a vacation or getaway isn’t in the cards, taking small breaks, even a few minutes at a time to walk outside for a breath of fresh air or listen to your favorite song can re-energize your mind and provide some mental clarity.
“Every minute that you can take for yourself can help you to feel even a little rejuvenated... and every step counts for your health and well-being.” – Loren
The Irish proverb may have the best advice for taking care of yourself as a caregiver: “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.”
3. Get help when and where you can.
“It [caregiving] is THE hardest job I have ever had and I taught preschool and high school for ten years. If you don't have family help, I strongly urge you to hire some help even if it is part time.” – Patricia
If respite care is an option, many caregivers find relief from the help of a professional caregiver. Consider in-home care services like Home Instead Senior Care or see if local assisted living facilities offer respite care. If you care for someone with dementia, you may be eligible for an Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Relief Grant.
Respite care can make a difference for you and your loved one. Read Barbara’s story and see how care changed her life.
4. If you’re working, understand your workplace benefits that may support family caregivers.
Balancing a career and caregiving comes with its own set of challenges. Home Instead Senior Care® compiled numerous resources to assist working caregivers in the public education program: Daughters in the Workplace. Learn communication tactics to discuss your situation with your manager, ways to feel empowered at work, tips to stay healthy and more.
“The first step is to talk to HR to see what accommodations they can give you. Caretakers have rights.” – Alexandra
“To experience both as a gift and less as a job.” – John
“Get enough rest every night. If you are tired, it makes life much harder. Sleep is necessary.” – Sheron
5. Take time to reflect along the journey.
The days can be long but the time could be short. It’s important to reflect and remember throughout the caregiving journey. Each day you may learn something new about your role or loved one. You’ll likely develop new strengths. Hear the compliments you may receive, they may be exactly what you need to lift you up and help you get through your day.
We asked members of our community what strength they’ve developed because of caregiving:
“Patience and faith” – Todd
“I’m resourceful and trust my gut.” – Sabrina
“Redirection. Sometimes (often), arguing over a point at a time when those in need are upset just makes things worse. Redirect to happier times, happier stories in their past then circle back once emotions have settled.” – Joe
“Determination to keep going.” – Norma
“Listening….they so want to be heard.” – Martha
“Patience, love and care.” – Marilyn
There will be proud moments along the way too. Remember to appreciate the moments that make you proud and celebrate your accomplishments like these caregivers have:
“Seeing my Dad smile and laugh.” – Patricia
“When my mom would tell anyone in earshot what a wonderful daughter she had and what a selfless caregiver I was.” – Luena
“Becoming proactive with her health care instead of reactive.” – Joanna
“My proudest moment as a caregiver has been asking my Mom questions from a book I bought titled "Mom, tell me your story." This let me know my mom better and things that I did not know about her and her childhood.” – Susan
While caregiving is a role many fall into, it can be a beautiful ride. As with any challenge, the sound advice of: Do your best, be positive and ask for help seems fitting. Perhaps DeChelle says it best.
“Every moment is not promised. Learn to breathe, cry when you need to cry. Laugh and enjoy the sentimental moments, remember this won't last forever, life changes quickly. You are never in this alone. Someone out in this world feels just like you do. But those being cared for by you are so blessed and loved. Remember God's got you.”