“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” A quote by Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady of the United States as the wife of President Jimmy Carter.
It takes a special person to be a caregiver to others. The struggle to balance family, life and work at the same time as caregiving for a loved one is extremely hard.
Some situations arise in our own family that require us to become a caregiver. If the family member becomes ill or affected by dementia, the caregiver should receive education and training to handle the needs and safety of their loved one. Dealing with diet restrictions, loss of memory, mood swings, behavior such as crying spells, and daily hygiene habits can become overwhelming. Learning how to cope with the affected family member’s demands and employing techniques to respond to them are crucial. The exterior doors need to be secured with keyed deadbolts to prevent wandering. Handicap bars should be installed in the bathtub and next to the commode for grasping to prevent falls.
Caregiving may also require becoming a health care advocate for your loved one. Learning the medications prescribed, the dosage requirements, and possible side effects is critical to their wellbeing. The health care advocate should keep a daily journal of the person’s pain levels, if any, eating habits, bathroom routine, sleeping patterns, and demeanor. The journal and any questions that may arise can be discussed at the next doctor’s appointment.
While each of us has received caregiving as a child by our parents, there are times that we need to become their caregivers. And ultimately, most of us will need a caregiver at some point in our lives.
Be patient with your loved one and with yourself. Take one day at a time and take time for you. Be sure to accept help in caregiving when it is offered. Caregiving can be very rewarding especially when your loved one tells you “Thank you for everything you do!”
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Janet Denison, Associate Publisher of the Seniors Blue Book of Greater Pittsburgh. She can be reached at Janet@SeniorsBlueBook.com or 724.759.0259.