If someone you love has a disability—no matter the age—balancing their needs with everyday life can be challenging. Caregivers exist at a variety of different levels like spouses caring for each other, a parent taking care of a child, or a child taking care of an elderly parent. Caregiving is rewarding, but it also comes with an immense amount of responsibility. To prevent you from getting overwhelmed, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips so you can deliver the best care, stay healthy, and keep a positive mindset.
Do as much research as possible about your loved one’s disability. Keep up with the latest studies, read articles, and understand the symptoms of the condition. If the person you are caring for is living with Alzheimer’s disease, seek information from the Alzheimer’s disease research foundation.
With a growing elderly population, research on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia may become more prevalent in future years. Becoming informed about your family member’s disability will help you make better decisions when it comes to their care.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other relevant legislation. Ask doctors questions regarding your loved one’s treatment and keep up-to-date records of their medical history. If you become an advocate for your family member, you may be more successful in receiving better services.
Family and friends can offer support and usually welcome the idea of helping. Establish ways your relatives and friends can assist you in the caregiving of your loved one. Maybe they can help cook meals, grocery shop, or run errands. Beyond your own circle, seek out support from local organizations. Your community can be a great way to network with others who are experiencing similar issues and find helpful services and resources for people living with disabilities. Joining a support group can also help you manage the various emotions you may have while you are working as a caregiver.
Encourage and Empower
Encourage your loved one to be independent and discuss their needs openly with them. Feelings of independence empower your loved one, raise their self-esteem, and establishes a positive attitude. However, do consider the health and safety issues involved. If you are concerned and feel the need to step in, address the situation with them respectfully and with understanding.
Take Care of Yourself
You can’t provide your loved one with the proper care if you are not taking proper care of yourself. Be sure to get an adequate amount of sleep and eat regular meals. Caregiving is hard work so take breaks when needed and allow yourself to have hobbies and other relationships. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise frequently, and see a medical professional if you feel ill. Address your emotional needs as well and consider counseling or meditation to combat the stress of caregiving.
Consider Respite Care
To help take care of your own well-being, consider respite care. Respite care is when another caregiver takes on your responsibilities so that you can have a short break. This can be a few times per week or for a few weeks. Respite care is crucial in preventing burn-out. Respite care services come in a variety of forms like in-home support or residential stays.
Knowing how to navigate the health care system and understanding insurance plans is imperative when you are caring for an individual with a disability—especially if he or she is aging. Search for the best life insurance coverage for your loved one with iSelect by comparing different providers.