If you're the primary caregiver of a loved one, or planning to be, you want to provide the best care possible. Caring for an elderly family member or spouse is challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Here are five in-home care tips:
1. Ask for help
The most common mistake by caregivers is that they try to do everything themselves. Doing it all leads to burn out and frustration. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You can ask another family member to help you with tasks or hire someone. An in-home aide will help with cooking, cleaning, and hygiene. An in-home nurse will help with more difficult tasks such as providing medication and changing catheters.
2. Prepare your home
Even though your home is safe for you, it may not be safe for your family member. You need to evaluate your home for hazards and prepare a safe environment. Here is a checklist:
- Remove or tape down all rugs.
- Place electrical cords behind furniture or tape to baseboards.
- Place night lights throughout your home, especially in hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms.
- Make sure stair railings are sturdy and easily gripped.
- Purchase an adjustable bed with a railing for your loved one.
- Use non-skid mats and grip bars in showers.
- Put a grip bar beside the toilet.
- Place pads on sharp corners of walls, counters, and tables.
3. Join a support group
Being a primary caregiver can make you feel alone and overwhelmed. A support group can put you in touch with other people who are going through exactly what you are. Don't be ashamed to admit you have rough days. It's normal to want a place where you can vent your frustrations. A support group can give you advice on how to cope and take care of yourself.
4. Help your loved one keep depression away
Caregivers aren't the only ones at risk for depression. Your family member can also become depressed. Help your loved one build routines that keep depression at bay. Here are some tips:
- Take a daily walk with your loved one.
- Take your relative to senior activities to encourage him or her to build new friendships and prevent social isolation.
- Introduce your loved one to social media. Social media will help your loved one maintain relationships with family and friends.
5. Have a daily schedule and routine
Create and maintain a daily schedule and routine. This helps give your loved one a sense of normalcy and security. Hang the schedule in your family member's room so they can see it and know what to expect. You may also want to give him or her a calendar so they can pencil in activities or changes they wish to make to the schedule on certain days or special occasions. Let your loved one have some control of planned activities.
Being a caregiver is both challenging and rewarding. These tips will help you provide the best in-home care. Contact a local outlet, such as MultiCare Home Health, for further assistance.