Spending time caring for a loved one who has been ill or undergone a medical treatment can be a difficult sacrifice. But you are providing a service to the patient by caring for them, allowing them to focus on recovering.
The first step in providing care is to get organized. Develop a filing system to catalog important medical documents and paperwork. Store the patient’s medical history and medication list in a convenient location, along with any notes or instructions.
Since you may not know how to handle certain tasks for the patient, like bathing or dressing them, it would be wise to have a visiting nurse come to your home to teach you. Make sure you ask questions about the patient’s condition so that the health care provider gives you all the necessary information.
Self-care is just as important.
Taking care of someone is never an easy job. It’s a balancing act that can put stress on the caregiver. In order to keep performing at your best, you need to make sure you tend to yourself as well. Support groups are a great place to go where you can share your feelings, discuss any problems you’re facing, and most importantly, meet those who are going through similar experiences. Check with our hospital, a local health organization or search online to find support groups. If you’re caring for an older adult, call (800) 677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov to find local services for you or your loved one, or visit a caregiving website like caregiveraction.org and www.caregiver.org.
Don’t be afraid to accept help from friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers. Trying to handle everything on your own can add even more stress to the situation.
Be sure to take time for yourself when possible by going to a movie or taking a nature walk — whatever you need to do to re-energize. A social worker can arrange for a home health aide or respite care to watch over the patient while you are away.
What Are They Going Through?
Everyone is different.
People deal with illnesses differently. You may not always understand why your loved one is reacting in a certain way.
But there are some things you can do to help:
The person may not feel ready to talk about their feelings. Respect that and be there for them as a comforting presence, ready to listen at any time.
Read about your loved one’s condition or procedure, and be sure to ask the medical team if you have any questions.
As the caretaker, don’t let yourself become overwhelmed or distant from your loved one. Figure out what you can handle and commit to doing it to the best of your ability.