Family Caregiving: A Guide

You may be called upon at some point in your life to be a family caregiver. It could be for an aging parent, a spouse who’s recovering from an injury, a child who’s developed an illness or for a number of other reasons. Taking on this role can be very difficult, and at times you’ll feel overwhelmed and alone. It can, however, also be very rewarding and there are lots of ways you can make the experience easier and more pleasurable. Here are some tips to help you get the support you need when caring for someone you love.

What is a Family Caregiver? 

An increasing number of people are living with chronic disabilities and illness which means more and more of you are caring for loved ones at home and being a family caregiver. You’re tasked with providing care and attention and improving their quality of life. Being a caregiver is a challenging role to take on, especially if you have no formal training. It is, however, possible to be a good caregiver with the right help and support.

What You Need to Know 

  • Research – it’s important to find out as much as you can about your family member’s condition and how to care for them. 
  • Look for Support – you’ll feel much better about things when you realize you’re not alone. There are other caregivers you can go to when you need to talk to someone or ask advice. You can also ask family and friends for help. Caregiver support groups, social workers, counselors, national caregiver organizations and organizations specific to your family member’s condition can also provide support.   
  • Listen to Your Gut – you know your family member better than the professionals so while you shouldn’t ignore what they’re saying you should also trust your gut feeling. 
  • Encourage independence – if you’re a caregiver, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything for them. There’s a wide range of tools and equipment you can get to help them take care of themselves. Byram Healthcare, for example, can provide you with medical supplies delivery
  • Be Prepared for a Range of Feelings – when you become a caregiver, it can trigger a host of different emotions, some of which you might not be prepared for. You could feel angry, resentful, helpless or afraid. Having these feelings is normal so don’t beat yourself up about them. They don’t mean you love the person any less. 

Don’t Forget to Attend to Your Own Needs 

You’ll be no good as a caregiver if you don’t take care of yourself. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind of caregiving and forget about your own needs. Take the time to relax every day. Find someone you can talk to about your situation and your feelings as it never helps to bottle things up. You might find it helpful to keep a journal because it can make things appear much clearer. Make sure you do things you enjoy to keep a balance in your life. Try to include exercise in your routine and make sure you eat right.