As rewarding as it is to provide care for a senior as they age, the role may sometimes bring about challenges. This often includes understanding both the behavioural and emotional changes of the person you are caring for.
There can be many times where caregivers feel overwhelmed or experience other emotional burdens. This can put a strain on even the most resilient individuals. It is important not to ignore these signs, as doing so may lead to serious caregiver burnout. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.
Here are 7 ways to help you cope with caring for someone while taking care of yourself.
1. Focus on what you are able to provide
Feeling guilty due to some mistakes can be normal, but understand that no one is a “perfect” caregiver. Always believe that you are doing the best with the right intentions and never underestimate your capabilities.
2. Set realistic goals
Organize your tasks well and prioritize, make lists and establish a daily routine. Be honest with yourself on what you can and can’t do. Learn to say no to requests that are draining and beyond your responsibilities, such as hosting holiday meals.
3. Join a support group
A caregiver support group can provide validation and encouragement; as well as problem-solving strategies for difficult situations from like-minded people.
Here are 3 caregiver support groups within Malaysia:
- National Dementia Caregivers Support Network
- Caregiver & Peer Support Service by Malaysian Mental Health Association
- Caregiver Support Group by National Cancer Society Malaysia
People in support groups understand what you may be going through. A support group can also be a good place to forge friendships that you can count on.
4. Set personal health goals
It is important to set goals not just for the individual you are caring for, but for your personal health too! Set goals to establish a good sleep routine, find time to be physically active, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
Many caregivers have issues with sleeping. Not getting quality sleep over a long period of time can cause health issues.
5. Remember that all behaviour has a purpose
Often times, people with dementia present certain behaviours because they are trying to communicate their needs or emotional vulnerability across.
Slow down, try to view the world through their eyes, and respond to the “feeling” behind the behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself. This may prevent an emotional crisis.
6. Reserve some ‘Me’ time
Make sure you stay on top of not only your loved one’s care needs but your personal ones too. Doing so can help you avoid burnout, allowing you to continue to do the things that you enjoy. Remember to treat yourself every once in a while because you deserve it!
7. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t
Caregiving can be a difficult and demanding role at times. This can be very overwhelming for caregivers. Hence, it is so important to take things day by day, hour by hour. Instead of focusing on the things beyond your control, focus on what you can do to help your loved one.