Caring for an aging loved one can be a deeply fulfilling role, and family caregivers often relish the opportunity to give back to a parent or relative who once provided for them. But caregiving can also be highly physically and emotionally demanding, and it’s not uncommon to face some obstacles throughout the journey.
Each new year presents fresh challenges and opportunities for family caregivers of aging seniors and 2022 presents an opportunity to reassess and reflect, adjusting your loved one’s care plan to help you both thrive, not simply survive.
As a residential assisted living facility, we care about caregivers. Here are 7 of our top tips for family caregivers in 2022!
Find a Strong Support Network
Being a family caregiver can be emotionally taxing. You might have to make big decisions with (or for) your senior relative, and watching a loved one’s health decline can be difficult to cope with alone. What’s more, many family caregivers are so busy that their own social and emotional needs get pushed aside. Whether your go-to support system is comprised of close friends and family members or a designated support group for family caregivers, building a strong network can be incredibly beneficial.
Take Breaks and Accept Help
Not only do you deserve the opportunity to relax and recharge, but the care you provide for your loved one will be better if you’re healthy, too. Perhaps you could ask another family member to check in on your parent for one day each week, or simply accept an offer of a homecooked meal from a friend. Seeking and accepting practical help is a great way for family caregivers to balance their responsibilities and reduce the risk of burnout.
Stay Physically Active
Caregiving is often a very physical, hands-on role – especially if your loved one is still living in their own home. You might be responsible for helping them get out of bed, up the stairs or to carry out personal care tasks like bathing and dressing. Taking some form of exercise could help you assist them more effectively, while simultaneously reducing your risk of injury. Physical activity needn’t be overly time consuming or intense; something as simple as a short daily walk can do wonders for overall wellbeing, offering benefits from improved sleep and restored energy levels to elevated mood and greater cardiovascular fitness. There may even be gentle exercise classes for seniors in your local area or within your loved one’s assisted living facility in Pueblo West – why not sign up for one together? Keep in mind that if you’re elderly or have any health issues, it’s important to speak to a physician prior to starting any new exercise regime
Keep up to Date with Their Medical Needs
As a family caregiver, it’s vital that you feel empowered by knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during appointments, and prioritize learning how to communicate effectively with the medical professionals you encounter. Make sure you understand any medication changes or follow-up appointments your loved one requires, and write down any questions you need to ask in advance. Feeling well informed will help you to confidently make the best decisions for your loved one’s care going forward.
Adapt Your Loved One’s Home
If your loved one is not yet living in a residential assisted living facility in CO, their home might present some physical barriers. Think about how you can adapt their environment to reduce the risk of falls and make life a little easier for them to navigate. Perhaps a shower could be installed so they don’t have to maneuver into the bathtub, or something as simple as a sturdy handrail could help them feel more confident when climbing the stairs. If you’re unsure, it might be beneficial to speak to an occupational therapist for professional guidance.
Create an Efficient Filing System
One aspect of being a family caregiver that is rarely touched upon is the administration. Taking care of your own finances, bills and healthcare documents is often difficult enough. If you have also taken charge of a senior loved one’s personal affairs, it can become overwhelming. Organizing paperwork into a filing system that suits you is a simple and effective way to keep important documents on hand and prevent them from getting lost. For example, you might wish to create a binder containing all your loved one’s health-related documents for doctor’s visits, or a financial folder with one section for your own papers, and a second for your relative’s.
Consider Residential Assisted Living
Many seniors find living in their own home becomes increasingly difficult as they get older. This can be down to a range of factors, including physical barriers like staircases, low bathtubs or uneven surfaces, or mental and cognitive decline like forgetfulness or feelings of isolation. If you’ve noticed that your loved one seems to be struggling more than usual, it might be time to discuss residential assisted living. Equally, if you feel you’re no longer coping in your role as a family caregiver, this could also be a sign that it’s time to consider what the next stage in their retirement might look like.
From emotional, physical, financial and organizational perspectives, being a family caregiver can present a whole host of challenges. This year, take a moment to reflect on how you can move forward, adapting your loved one’s care to benefit you both.
If you’re ready to explore the possibility of residential assisted living with your senior relative, get in touch today or arrange a visit to discover how we dedicate ourselves to both seniors and family caregivers.