Home Care Basics
Caregiving can seem overwhelming - even for experienced caregivers. SageMinder provides some basic day to day caregiving advice and information to help.
We also have a broad range of Caregiving Articles from guest writers. If you think we are missing any care tips or basics and would like us to add more information about a certain topic - or if you would be interested in submitting a guest article - email us to let us know.
Care at home can be a rewarding experiece and it can also be challenging. Some of the tools you need can be found here at SageMinder. Elderly people most need our patient and loving attention as they struggle with increasing frailty, disability, or chronic diseases common in advanced age.
1. Take the Time to Organize
We get into trouble if we start large endeavors with chaos! So, take the time early on to organize paperwork, insurance and medical information, prescriptions, etc. Our forms for organizing care can help.
Look at everything you do in a day. Are there ways to simplify? Can you get rid of any tasks that do not really offer very much value in your life? Sometimes we do things a certain way or keep going to the same group meeting long after that task or event holds meaning for us. If there are things to cut out of your life because they offer very little to you, drop these items now.
3. Plan Ahead for Caregiving
While we don't like to imagine a parent or another elderly loved one declining in health or needing more care, the liklihood is there. As busy as you may be, it is important to have some plans for which hospital you may want to use, getting insurance issues resolved, finding out which home care agencies or assisted living facilities in your area would be best suited for you before it is a crisis. Also, getting your own affairs in order in terms of finding reliable child care for your own children in the event of an emergency can really help if you are needed in a pinch later.
4. Find Resources
Along with planning ahead, while collecting information about services in your area, look at what you may be able to use now. Are there adult day care options that you can use only one day a week for now? Can you find help with paying for services? Are there low-cost home care agencies to just do light housecleaning or do other tasks you need help with?
5. Time for Self
When you do get a minute alone, try to take some of it for guilty pleasures like a hot bath, a long walk, a call to an old friend, a special meal or treat, or whatever relaxes you. It is important to recharge and your other tasks will get done even if you put yourself first once in a while. Just start with a few minutes here and there. In the long-run, you may find you are more capable of meeting all your challenges if you take time to recharge.
6. Time for Something New
While it is good to take some "recharge" time - it is also important to sometimes change the scenery, make a new friend, learn something new, go to a movie, etc. We all need a little variety in our lives and it helps us gain perspective and vitality to just get out of our ordinary day to day lives. Find something fun you have always wanted to do - schedule it in, find some help so you can go do it, and then make sure you carry it out. It also gives us something different to just look forward to when the daily grind seems tough.
7. Good Times
Look for good times you can share with your Elderly family member. Is there a movie you want to watch? See if you guys can watch together. What about a craft you were wanting to do or a book you could read out loud so you both can enjoy it? Do you like watching birds? See if you can put a bird feeder outside of her window too. The more you can find to share with the person you care for, the better chance you will make a richer connection.
It is a good idea to keep up good contact with other family members. Sometimes, others want to be more involved but don't know what to say or don't know what you need. People may fear calling or reaching out out of their own guilt at not helping enough or out of a fear of bothering an already busy caregiver. Make time to connect with others and give them updates - it may make it easier for others to understand how they can help. Also, if you need more help, try asking! What is the worst that can happen? If you would like your spouse to pitch in more at your house - try just making a plain request and see how it goes. Communicate often to avoid a sense of isolation in your role.
One way to become more capable of handling all the challenges ahead is to simply learn as much as you can. Learn about what help is in your community. Learn about aging and any disorders your family member is facing. The more you know, the better you will be able to navigate the course ahead.
10. Stay Healthy
You have heard this already, but there are several things you absolutely must prioritize now: sleep, eating well, and exercise. Your body is not made out of steel. Since you have added responsibilities now, you will be straining your body more than ever. It is necessary for you to take extra measures to do whatever you can to stay healthy for yourself and your future.