A study by the Ministry of Health revealed that on average, caregivers provide 6.8 hours of care to care recipients per day in a normal week. Caregiving can be a rewarding experience as it allows you to support your elderly loved ones with the love and care they need.
But for the more than 210,000 estimated Caregiver Agency, these hours are on top of other responsibilities they need to balance, such as their career, family, and their own lives.
Being a primary caregiver is difficult and when providing support for a family member, it may seem like a never-ending series of tasks. There is no one-way approach to home care. But keeping in mind the following may help put things into perspective and make caregiving easier.
Caregiving can be frustrating and it takes a lot of patience to handle it well. It is important to be self-aware and know when to step out when you need a breather so that you don’t take it out on your family.
Remember that seniors may have different physical or mental capabilities than before and they may be harboring fears of being a burden. When tensions rise, step into the other room for a moment to compose yourself.
Learn to balance your needs as well as the needs of your care recipient. Even though you are their caregiver, you don’t need to drop everything each time they call. Take into consideration the urgency of a task.
If you feel it can wait a moment, calmly let them know that you’ll get to it as soon as you can. Acknowledging their call will make them feel heard and not feel disregarded.
When it comes to activities of daily living such as toileting and bathing, be flexible and honest. It might be embarrassing for them to ask for help but be candid and empathic. This will make them more open to asking for and accepting assistance.
Research on your loved one’s health condition and needs so that you can be informed of the best way to support them. It would also help if you ask for tips from health professionals regarding chronic conditions and how to manage the symptoms.
Another option is signing up yourself or a domestic helper for caregiver training.
Trained caregivers are taught to recognize early warning signs of medical conditions such as dementia. They are also equipped with personal care techniques such as proper bathing or checking of basic vital signs and proper management of chronic illnesses.
The course also teaches clinical skills, techniques on emotional coping and ways to look after your own health and well-being as a caregiver.
If you’re worried about the cost, a home caregiving grant can help with the extra expense. It provides a $200 monthly cash payout to eligible Singaporeans or permanent residents to help families care for their loved ones experiencing moderate to severe disabilities.
In times you may be having a difficult time dealing with your ageing loved ones, remember that they too have to adjust to the change.
Try putting yourself in their shoes. Many seniors fear losing their independence because of their age and their condition. Their medical condition may have taken away their old lifestyle and it can be hard to accept that.
Taking the time to understand their feelings will help you be more empathetic the next time you don’t see eye to eye.
Beware of caregiver burnout
When providing care for an older adult, it may be tempting to compromise your health and wellness to focus on their needs. This will not be beneficial in the long run as it will lower your quality of life and may even lead to burnout.
When burned out, it will be much more difficult for you to provide your seniors with the support they need because you have been deprived of care yourself.
Emotional coping courses in caregiver training teach you to use community care services like respite care centers. These provide short-term assistance to caregivers and quality care to clients. So you can have peace of mind as you take a break to focus on yourself and your needs.
Amidst all the tasks and weight of responsibility, don’t forget the power of physical touch.
Patting them lightly on the hand or hugging them goes a long way to show your loved ones you care and love them. Remember, on top of the support, elderly people need compassion and comfort too.
Plus, a good hug every once in a while, will do you good too.
As an elderly caregiver, you may often find yourself in the position of making decisions for your loved one.
It is good to remember that although they may depend on your support for daily tasks, your loved ones still have their own thoughts and opinions. In decision-making, your loved one should have a say too.
Establish open communication with your care recipient so they can feel comfortable enough to express their needs, desires, and fears. They will appreciate being heard and having a say and this, in turn, will increase the trust between you two.
With responsibilities piling up, caregiving might feel like a never-ending task. You may find yourself doing things for the sake of doing them.
Instead of seeing caregiving as another chore, it is important to remember that the person you are caring for is the person you love. Assist them with love and intention so that they can feel it.
Be present and notice non-verbal cues
Rushing from one task to another may cause you to overlook crucial clues as to how your elderly loved one is feeling, especially if they find it hard to express themselves.
Take a moment to pause and sit down with them. Take note of any change in body language and facial expressions as these can provide insight into what your loved one is feeling or thinking. you might notice something that you would like to bring up to their doctor in their next check-up at a hospital.
Work together. Cultivate trust and learn how you can cooperate so you can work on a routine and a schedule that works for both of you. The work begins with yourself and eventually, they’ll be able to adopt the same cooperative mindset.
Keep in mind that their nurses and doctor are part of the team too. Let them give their professional input in your home care plan and follow up on updates on symptoms of chronic conditions so you are sure to be on the same page with your loved one’s health.
Communication, trust, and empathy can go a long way to ease the burden of caregiving. To provide your aging loved one with the best care and support, remember to check in with yourself and look after your needs too.
There is no need to feel guilty about taking a break once in a while. Tapping into community centers and other professional care services for extra help will ensure your loved one is in good hands as you rest and recharge.
Nowadays a growing number of older adults prefer to age in the comfort of their own homes and do not want to live in nursing homes or a hospital. An alternative to families shouldering the burden of caregiving alone is to make use of home care services.
If you are looking for additional help, you have the option of hiring a domestic helper or a part-time/live-in caregiver. Nurse recruiters hire only caregivers with the right nursing skills who can assist older people with activities of daily living. Care services offer patients with personalized care plans to ensure the best care and quality of life.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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