We are excited to introduce Tanvi Patel, MA, LPC-S, NCC as our guest blogger. Tanvi is a licensed therapist and trained mediator. Tanvi has a wealth of expert advice on a variety of topics and presents helpful points for those that are currently caring for a loved one.
When I think of Elder Care, I think of my grandparents, I think of the future and what my parents might need, and I think of how I’d like to live out these so-called “golden years.” Over the last decades, as Americans continue to push the average senior age higher and higher, a lot of focus has been turned toward seniors and all that is entailed. Retirement funds need to be larger, healthcare funds need to be allocated, families join together to accommodate an aging family member, depression and existential crises need to be explored and when appropriate, treated therapeutically. The list goes on. But today in this piece, I’d like to focus on the role of the caregiver and helpful points to consider in caring for an elder loved one.
Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes increasingly as many homes are two income homes and time is a scarce commodity. Nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, social workers, home health care workers, sons and daughters, spouses, in laws, nieces, nephews, friends. This list goes on too. With so many individuals providing care for aging loved ones, it is important to keep a few things in mind to help clarify the role of caregiver, to help resolve any feelings of resentment and guilt, and to help manage stress and to help stay informed.
Helpful points in caring for an elder loved one:
- Always take care of yourself. You cannot adequately help others if you are not okay. Stay healthy physically, emotionally and mentally.
- Seek out other caregivers in similar roles to yours. Share the struggle, it is not easy. You are not alone. Create a group that talks over coffee or an online forum to stay in touch.
- Manage stress when providing care. It’s important to remember that the senior individual is not purposefully trying to make you angry or irritate you or single you out, etc. In order to increase patience and efficacy in caregiving, find ways to manage your own stressors and leave them at the door when interacting with a senior. This will also help decrease any feelings of guilt when losing patience with an elder loved one.
- Cut yourself some slack. Even though stress can be managed, the role of a caregiver is sometimes too stressful for one person. Find help if you need. This will only increase the care you provide and in turn increase the quality of life for the senior.
- Stay in the loop. Sign up for blogs, newsletters, mailing lists, etc. and become informed about any conditions that the senior you care for has. This will help you separate symptoms from normal interaction with the senior, and help preserve the relationship.
- Always remember to respect the full life this senior has lived. Many times with diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s when seniors’ behaviors might mirror children’s behaviors it can be easy to slip into treating them as such. Treating seniors with dignity will help improve care and the relationship you have with them. And it’s the right thing to do. This will also remove any guilt you may have for reacting to a symptom versus managing the elder’s symptom.
These may sound like simple points, but they can be crucial to the efficacy and well-being of the caregiver. In my practice, I see caregivers burn out, have increased anxiety, have feelings of resentment, guilt or depression, and are struggling to continue care of their loved one. Following these points can help enormously and keep the caregiver in a healthy, functioning state of mind in order to provide the senior with the effective and compassionate care they need.
To learn more about Tanvi and all the services she offers, visit her website http://www.counselingandmediation.com
Disclosure: If some of these circumstances apply to you and are interfering with your ability to continue providing care or living functionally, it may be time to seek professional help.
We would like to thank Tanvi for providing these helpful tips for caregivers. At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we understand the crucial role that a caregiver can play in someone’s life. We are here to answer questions and offer home care solutions to help you provide the best care for your loved ones.
Enriched Life Home Care Services | www.ELHCS.com