5 Ways to Be a Better Caregiver

Few would dispute that caregiving is physically and emotionally draining. Whether one is caring for a disabled child or a senior parent, the responsibilities seem endless. Sheer exhaustion can lead to heightened levels of emotions.

What can a caregiver do when those emotions turn negative and counter productive?

Here are 5 ways that helped me nurture my emotional health making me a better caregiver:

  1. Friends – Most often friends are not directly connected to the caregiving situation, which allows them to be more objective. Friends will listen with a sympathetic ear but also let you know when you need to regroup. If they haven’t experienced being a caregiver themselves, they may not completely understand your emotional meltdowns, but they allow you an environment to vent without judgment.
  2. Family – Now some may argue family is part of the problem. This is true in many cases. However, if you can find just one family member that truly understands the intensity of being a caregiver, then you’ll know you have someone in your corner rooting for you. For me, my sister and brother-in-law were my saving grace.
  3. Support Groups – A support group can either be formal or informal. There are many wonderful coalitions that can connect you with other caregivers. If you’re in the Morris County, NJ area, I highly recommend contacting the Morris County Caregiver’s Coalition.
  4. Education – Concentrate your efforts on finding out all available resources to you. There are many respite programs available to provide you some time to yourself. A good place to start is to contact your local Division on Aging. If finances permit, a geriatric care manager is a professional expert who can assist with recommendations and options.  This is often a long-term situation. Knowing how to move the caregiving process can be daunting.  A geriatric care manager can make it less so.
  5. Solitude – Having 15 minutes alone every day is not impossible. At the time that I was a caregiver, I had a challenging 2-year-old, a new house, and a full-time job. You need time to just breathe. This shouldn’t be time spent washing dishes, doing laundry, or updating your Facebook page. Sit in silence for 15 minutes and you’ll be amazed how much you’ll be rejuvenated. Trust me, 15 minutes can offer some clarity. You’ll be a better caregiver as a result.

~ Dawn Perdon