Caring for a loved one at the end of life can be a rewarding and challenging task. Often caregivers feel overwhelmed, alone, and emotionally and physically drained. Having the assistance you need and understanding what to expect provides caregivers the confidence to provide safe and appropriate care.
One of the most important things to consider as a caregiver is your own quality of life. You must take care of yourself in order to be a good caregiver. One benefit of hospice is providing assistance with respite care (temporary care to provide relief to the caregiver). Whether you utilize a Volunteer to sit with your loved one while you go to the grocery store or use a respite benefit in a skilled nursing facility to give you a break from your caregiving duties, hospice can assist in getting you the support that you need.
Other ways caregivers can get relief from the stress of caregiving is to ask for help. Be specific in what you need from your family and friends. How can they be helpful to you? Do you need assistance with picking up groceries or bringing over meals? Perhaps you simply need a listening ear. Heart ‘n Home offers caregiver support from Social Workers and Spiritual Care Providers to Caregiver Support Groups.
Remember to protect your health by eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. Sometimes the duties of caregiving can be overwhelming. Take it one day, one hour, and one step at a time. It is okay to get frustrated and angry, but learning positive coping skills will go a long way in relieving the stress of caregiving. Many people find it helpful to keep a journal, watch a good movie, or plant a garden. Identify activities that you enjoy and that are manageable amongst your caregiving duties.
Finally, knowing what to expect is essential in creating caregiver confidence. Needs will vary from person to person, but you will learn what the specific needs are for your care receiver. Caregivers often experience anxiety about creating a safe care setting.
Tips for creating a safe environment:
*Avoid infection by using disposable gloves during cares,
*Always wash your hands,
*Clean soiled items and surfaces,
*Avoid falls by ensuring hearing aids/glasses are worn, keep a cane/walker by the person at all times, have the person wear non-skid socks or shoes, keep the home well lit, remove rugs or other objects that may increase risk for falls, educate yourself how to safely transfer a person by learning from the Hospice Nurse or CNA.
Some caregivers experience a change in personality and/or behavior of their care receiver. This can be upsetting and difficult to understand. Behavior changes may be related to medical reasons so always check with the hospice team or the primary care provider. Do not take things personally. Often, anger or frustration is directed at the situation as opposed to the caregiver. Validate your care receiver’s feelings and utilize your support system.