These Tips Will Help Become a Family Caregivers
This is the other side of the story. This is the one about being a family caregiver. You’re not the one who is dealing with physical pain or dealing with the possibilities there are things you can’t do and might not be able to do again.
Being a family caregiver does change your life. Often it can mean leaving your job to focus on helping a loved one. When I was a family caregiver, in the final year before my wife recovered, I was working for NTI, a nonprofit organization that helps Americans with disabilities. NTI helps family caregivers work remotely on their own schedule with free job training and job placement services.
In my case, and that’s the story for many others, I had no training as a family caregiver when I assumed the role. You really don’t have time to learn, so any tips you can get can be very helpful.
The first thing to do: Realize you need help.
For people who used to have someone do things for them, this can be very difficult to do all the things that need to be done. This is when you need to learn to ask for help and delegate assignments. When family and friends ask what they can do, this is the time to take them up on their offers. Decide what you can reasonably do and then come up with a schedule of when things need to be done.
The second thing to do: Take advantage of time.
When family or friends are visiting or the person you are caring for is getting medical attention, this can be time for yourself. Maybe it is going out for coffee or lunch, running errands, or just taking a walk. You need to make time for yourself, and that’s not neglecting your responsibility. You need to stop and take a break when you can. My time spent exercising proved to be a necessity to dealing with stress and staying healthy.
The third thing to do: Make sure you are getting rest, eating right, and watching your own health.
Where I went wrong here was using the time when I should have been sleeping to watch TV and do other things I like to do. The end result was getting four or five hours of sleep a night and I got sick, which made my caregiving a health risk for my wife and didn't allow me to do the role effectively. A good rule is to sleep whenever you can and avoid getting into the takeout junk-food trap. Making meals ahead of time is one step that is useful or has a listing of restaurants that provide quality alternatives. Another tip is when people ask what they can do, suggest the possibility of making a meal.
The fourth thing to do: Learn everything you can to be a caregiving advocate.
While I didn’t have to do this, a good thing to do is to make sure I knew what the treatments were, what rehab was going to be like, and about the medicine. There is a lot of different information being relayed and it can get confusing and overwhelming. Keep track of appointments on your computer or on a printout, so you know what to expect and when. This also works for administering medicine.
Fifth thing to: Find out what is offered for caregivers at your job.
I was lucky, working as a freelance writer and in part-time jobs when I was working as a family caregiver and then with NTI, which is dedicated to helping their employees and is very supportive. Studies show people don’t know how their employers can help them out, and that’s something you should check before deciding to leave your job. In this working climate, companies adjust to keep people employed. A flexible shift like NTI can offer may be able to keep you employed with an income coming in while you are being a family caregiver.
(A nonprofit organization, NTI helps Americans with disabilities find at-home jobs working in call centers for Fortune 500, government organizations, and large and small businesses. You can register for free job training and placement services at www.ntiathome.org.)