Picture this: You have unexpectedly found yourself to be a caregiver, without previous training or conscious thought about how this role may change your daily life. Many caregivers experience a sense of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, as they navigate numerous new challenges. However, caregiving can be a fulfilling experience, a time of increased self-discovery, a time of relationship and warmth.
As you begin to face the challenges of caregiving, consider these 7 helpful tips (these considerations are discussed during the Savvy Caregiver Program*):
- Seek out support and resources. You are not alone! Consider joining a Caregiver Support Group in your area, where you can brainstorm challenges and receive needed support from other caregivers. Ask family and friends for support when needed. Be specific about what assistance you need or how others can help. They may not have offered assistance because they do not know what to offer or how to help.
- Acquire more knowledge about dementing illnesses. You may wish to compile a list of questions to take to your loved one’s next doctor’s appointment to be addressed. Also, consider finding a caregiver training or workshop to assist with increasing your knowledge and skills.
- Communication is key! You will feel less frustrated if you are able to communicate your needs to others and understand how best to communicate with your loved one as a dementing illness progresses.
- Build time for self-care into your week to prevent “burnout” and deal with stressors. Have a list of things at the ready that you enjoy doing and use that list. Acknowledge your feelings, work on processing them, and try to accept or “let go” when needed.
- Consider the importance of a regular routine! Both you and your loved one will reap the benefits of establishing a daily routine, which may promote a needed sense of familiarity.
- De-clutter and simplify! You and your loved one may benefit from fewer distractions in your living environment.
- Improve your decision-making skills. Take some time to consider how you make decisions and ensure that you have a process to apply to any situation where your decision is required. This may help you feel more confident as you continue making decisions.
Please note that a Dementia Caregiver Support Group meets at Choices in Senior Care on the 2nd Thursday of each month from 1:30-3:00 PM, with a concurrent Cognitive Stimulation Group for your loved one. In addition, Care Managers from Choices in Senior Care will be facilitating the *6-week Savvy Caregiver Workshop beginning on Tuesday, July 14th at the O’Connor Senior Center in Knoxville. This workshop will take place on consecutive Tuesdays from 1:30-3:30PM. Savvy Caregiver is an evidence-based program that trains dementia caregivers in knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to cope with the daily challenges of the demanding caregiver role. A concurrent Cognitive Stimulation program will also be available for your loved one (care recipient) while you attend the Savvy Caregiver sessions. For more information on the Savvy Caregiver Workshop, please click here.
We look forward to helping you!
Elaine Wilson, LCSW, Aging Life Care Professional™
Maureen Willis, RN, Care Manager