5 Tips for New Elderly Caregivers

Becoming a caregiver for an elderly loved one can be a rewarding and challenging experience. It can also be stressful, leading to negative consequences like burnout. AARP estimates that nearly 53 million people provide some form of care to a loved one. Many seniors are cared for by a paid in-home caregiver through a home care agency. The needs of elderly people living at home can vary, from a little light housekeeping to more involved daily personal care routines such as bathing and dressing. Here are 5 tips for new elderly caregivers:

What New Caregivers for the Elderly Need to Know

When becoming a caregiver, there are a few things that it’s useful to know. The stress of caregiving can be difficult to deal with. So it’s important to be prepared for what’s ahead. Your elderly loved one will have a better experience; if you are able to deal with the ups and downs of being a caregiver.

Making a Plan for In-Home Elderly Care

The most important thing you can do when caring for an elderly relative at home is to make a plan. Talk to your loved one about their needs for care. Spell out what it is you’ll do for them to take care of those needs. Be as specific as you can. Include details. For example, when accompanying a senior to a doctor’s appointment, is it best to go back into the appointment with them to help receive instructions; or wait in the waiting room? When helping with meal planning and preparation; who does the dishes afterward? Many elderly folks are uncomfortable having these discussions, but in the long run it will be to the benefit of all.

Set an At-Home Care Schedule…But be Flexible

Part of the in-home caregiver planning process should be a schedule. But that schedule should have some flexibility to it. Deciding what types of care will take place on which days, what time, and how long it will take; are beneficial to both the caregiver and the senior. This is especially true for seniors with some form of cognitive impairment like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Having a routine can be beneficial for everyone in these situations. However, it is important to be flexible to the degree possible. In part because elderly people many times can take much longer to do things than planned, even with the assistance of a caregiver. They can also be somewhat stubborn and unrealistic about how long they take when getting ready to go somewhere. Patience is the key, but scheduling extra time is an enormous help.

Don’t be Afraid of Being in Charge of In-Home Care

Many new at-home caregivers face a difficult problem with the senior they are caring for. If the person they are providing care for is their parent or grandparent, they may have difficulty setting aside their previous relationship and defer to the senior in ways that end up being detrimental. In this situation, it’s important to discuss with the senior the caregiver role and what needs to be done. Having this conversation as part of the planning process also takes some of the stress out of the everyday process, because the caregiver can point to the at-home care plan as a sign that the senior has previously agreed to the plan.

Caring for the Elderly can Complicate Relationships

When the person you are providing care for is a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, it can expose or exacerbate an already difficult relationship. Caregivers who take care of their parents sometimes report bringing up old feelings of anger from their childhood. Additionally, parents may fall into old patterns of criticizing their child. These feelings may be exacerbated because they feel more vulnerable.

In addition, the when taking care of a parent, relationships with siblings can be strained. Some siblings may not approve of the care given, or may have their own opinions about their parents care. In these situations, it’s best to have as many parties as possible agree to who is responsible for care in advance.

Elderly Caregivers Need to Take Care of Themselves Too

It is absolutely vital that in-home caregivers work hard to take care of themselves while providing care to an elderly relative. The process of providing care to a parent or grandparent can be an emotional one, as the caregiver watches the person who raised them decline physically as they age. Whether it’s talking to a mental health professional, or simply reducing the stress associated with providing care , it’s important to work through the complicated emotions that caring for an elderly relative can bring up. But it’s not just the mental and emotional strain, it’s also physical.

Helping an elderly loved one get up from chairs, or in and out of the shower, can be physically demanding as well. Make sure to use proper technique when lifting or assisting them, and keep your strength up by exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. It may not seem like taking care of an elderly relative would be physically demanding, but some caregivers report it’s as physical as taking on a separate job.

Asking For Help with At-Home Senior Care

Another vitally important thing everyone caring for elderly relatives at home needs to know is; when to ask for help. Taking on responsibility to provide care doesn’t mean having to do everything all the time with no breaks. The health and wellbeing of a caregiver is important. As the senior being cared for will suffer negative consequences of a caregiver who is not themselves healthy enough to provide care, physically or emotionally. Whether it’s calling a home care agency to provide some professional care as a backup, or simply calling a friend or family member to help provide a break from everyday caregiving, knowing when to ask for help is extremely valuable.

Becoming a Paid Caregiver

Many who act as caregivers for elderly relatives report lost income from their regular job. Because they are spending time as a caregiver. It may be possible to become a paid caregiver for your elderly loved one. Many states have programs that allow family members providing in-home care for an elderly parent or grandparent to be paid for their time. There are training and reporting requirements involved; and they vary by program.

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Our professional in-home caregivers can provide care to an elderly loved one, and we can also help family members become paid caregivers themselves. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out more about caregiver services.

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