Tips for Caregivers to Celebrate Day to Day Successes 60

Tips for Caregivers to Celebrate Day to Day Successes

The following article is a guest post.

“Success can be defined in three simple words: And then some. The top people did what was expected of them, and then some. They were considerate and kind, and then some. They were good friends and helpful neighbors, and then some.”
Darnell Johnson

And then some pretty much sums up the life of a caregiver.

According to the Caregiving Alliance, over 40 million family caregivers currently reside in the United States, helping provide care to loved ones, spouses, family members, and children with special needs.

The average caregiver is a woman around age 50, but more and more young people of the millennial generation are taking on caregiving roles as well. Millions of caregivers work part or full-time and still provide care to one or more family members, often at the expense of their own schooling, employment, finances, and relationships.

Caregiving tasks may range from picking up prescriptions and providing transportation to appointments and physical therapy, to monitoring vitals and more skilled nursing duties like dressing wounds and administering medicine. The part of caregiver requires unending patience, grace under fire, vigilant attention to detail, as well as time, money, and of course, plenty of heart.

For many caregivers, especially those with aging loved ones who have Alzheimer’s, cognitive decline, or chronic disease, daily struggles are frequent and can take their toll physically and emotionally.

That is why it is so important to recognize key stress triggers, seek support, and celebrate day to day successes.

How can caregivers do that? Here are some ways:

Take 15.

So often, personal hobbies and exercise falls to the wayside for caregivers.

It’s difficult to find an hour much less a half hour to sneak away to the gym or go do something you love.

Start small instead and watch the time add up. 15 minutes a day to simply get outside for a walk in the sun while your loved one is napping, or 15 minutes to read a chapter in your current book, color, or crochet.

15 minutes seems like no time at all, but when you make it a regular thing, can be the brief but bountiful respite you need.

Treat Yourself.

The unfounded guilt which so often accompanies being a caregiver may mean constantly wondering “am I doing the right thing?” or “am I doing enough?”.

Celebrating you means letting go of some of that guilt and acknowledging that you deserve some pampering. Treat yourself with small, meaningful acts of self-care like taking a warm bubble bath, getting that new cook book you’ve been eyeing, going out to a movie, or indulging in the occasional piece of chocolate cake.

Empower Your Loved One.

Your day to day success as a caregiver is naturally boosted by the success of the loved one for whom you care.

Even the smallest accomplishment like getting dressed on their own, fixing breakfast, or helping you with chores can power feelings of self-reliance and positivity.

Equip your aging parents with the tools they need to succeed at day to day tasks – like a reacher grabber tool, dressing aids like a shoe horn or button hook tool, handle grippers, or mobility aids.

The smallest success can make a huge difference in the positive direction of both of your days.

Ask for Help.

Success for a caregiver isn’t necessarily finding a way to do everything on your own, but rather, strategically putting together a support network of medical professionals, family, and friends who can aid in the care of your loved one.

Asking for help is a definite struggle sometimes, but can make a huge difference.

Did you know that under certain conditions your loved one’s doctor may be able to write an order for a nurse or aid to come help you with covered care each week? Or that special help for seemingly small issues from swallowing food to toileting to taking pills can be addressed by an expert in that field?

Transform your day to day concerns into an active dialogue with your support network, seek answers, and potentially transform your loved one’s (and your) life.

Nominate Yourself.

Loads of resources, grants, and awards are available for family caregivers, and who knows, you might win the next one.

The Road Scholar’s program grants stipends to family caregivers over 50 who want to pursue education and learning opportunities, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging offers an award for innovations in caregiving, and AARP and the Family Caregiver Alliance regularly share caregiver grants and resources as well.

Nominating yourself or applying may seem against your selfless caregiver nature, but it paves a way for you to recognize your own worth and contribution, and celebrate it!

As the final member of the Boomer generation turns 65 in just over 10 years, more and more of their kids and relatives will find themselves being called upon to provide care in some capacity. The resources and knowledge needed to succeed at caregiving will vary greatly from person to person, but being able to celebrate even the smallest successes each day should not.

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9 Ways to Handle Change in Your Life [Infographic] 3

9 Ways to Handle Change in Your Life [Infographic]

When a big change happens in your life, it doesn’t have to be a negative change to have a huge impact on you.

Change causes uncertainty and our brains and bodies react to uncertainty by trying to protect us with the release of fight or flight chemicals and hormones.

The downside to this is that living with these for an extended time results in elevated heart rate and affects your digestion, immune systems and blood flow.

But there are ways you can regain control over your life even in the midst of big changes.

The first is to take a step back and reflect on what’s actually happening and what your involvement is, which will help you to understand and find perspective on the situation. Hopefully, this will enable you to find the opportunities that every change in your life brings, rather than obsessing over any short-term negative impacts.

It may also help you to allow yourself a transition period where you adjust to the changes. But with a firm deadline by which you expect to have moved on and settled into the new routine. Even if it doesn’t quite work out that way, it will still push you towards visualizing the end of the uncertainty, which will prepare you to make it happen sooner rather than later.

On a more basic level, you need to remember to look after yourself during this time of change and the related stresses.

It can be too easy to fall into bad habits like neglecting your own simple needs, like a good night’s sleep and staying active and eating right when you are going through something like this. Having a day in your pajamas eating ice cream out of the tub is fine. But your body needs sleep, exercise and nutrition to keep you healthy.

Routine can be a comfort when it feels like everything in your life is changing.

So try and stick to some simple ones like walking your dog every morning or going to a regular gym class to give your life some stability and consistency.

You also need the help and support of those around you. And having a strong support network is crucial when it comes to coping with big changes in your life. This means family and friends, but you could also seek out people going through similar experiences by looking online. There may well be communities who you can talk to and get helpful tips from.

Most importantly of all, you need to be aware of when you need more than just the love and support of other people to help you cope with stress and uncertainty. If you start to feel like your mental health is really suffering, or you have been feeling the symptoms of stress for more than a couple of months, you need to go and talk to a health professional to get the help you need to bounce back.

You can read more practical tips about dealing with change and the symptoms it causes in this infographic from Pounds to Pocket.