Care giving guide for first timers

care-givers-guide

Guide For First Timers

Caregiving is not easy but it’s probably one of the most complicated roles you’ll ever play but you do get the satisfaction of helping someone. Most caregivers experience mixed emotions as they have very little control over what happens and often experience feelings of resentment and frustration about the loss of privacy. This guide is aimed to help first time caregivers, it includes advice, resources and checklists. We hope this guide helps you get organized and make the process easier for both you and your loved one. Finally, remember: Just take it one step at a time.

Step – 1

Anticipate and Plan
When it comes to your parents or anyone close to you; plan a conversation. Don’t wait for a sudden illness or a critical diagnosis to take you by surprise. Plan caregiving at an early stage. Talk to your loved ones about their views and wishes, preferences and finances.

Step – 2

Group Resources
Don’t try to handle all the responsibilities of caregiving yourself. Talk to other family members, friends, and professional caregivers. Assign roles to whoever is willing to help, usually other family members and friends. It is also important to engage an unrelated mediator to manage disagreements and resolve any difficult issues.

Step – 3

Make a Plan
Sit with other members of your family and develop a short term and a long-term plan. This includes financial planning as well as determining role each of you play. Also, gather all medical records in one place as it will help you respond more quickly during an emergency. In case, you have to do everything yourself, consider engaging a part time caregiver.

Sometimes, hands-on caregiving tasks, such as bath or toileting can be uncomfortable. Check if any other member can help or consider hiring assistance.

Tasks that can be shared or delegated:

  • who will take care medical appointments
  • who will prepare meals
  • who will step in when the primary caregiver is away
  • who will keep tabs on all expenses

Set up an email or WhatsApp group to keep everyone up to date, this will help you stay organized and focused.

Step – 4

Care for Your Loved One
Choosing between your own career, children, spouse and taking care of a parent often becomes a challenge for caregivers. Source products that lighten the caregiver’s workload and help your loved one remain safe and independent.

Some products that you might consider:

Step – 5

Get Trained
As a primary caregiver, ask your doctor or medical assistant to train you on day to day procedures such as sugar level tests, nebulization or dressing a wound.

Step – 6

Stay organized
Caregiving can be a complex role but try to be organized with health records, filling prescription and storing all emergency numbers in phone and in a notebook as well. Also, check out sources for ambulances, medicines, doctors who make house calls, medical oxygen suppliers and hospitals near you.

Step – 7

Take care for yourself
Caregiving can be highly stressful. Add loss of sleep, poor eating habits and lack of exercise can affect your health indirectly. Always, take care of yourself first; engage in activities that you find relaxing. Remember, caregiving is a long haul and you’ll need to stay fit physically and mentally to care for others.

Finally, take care of your personal finances, paying for medical expenses, missing out work, passing up promotions, are all going to take a toll. Keep a record of all expenses and share it with others in your family.

How to handle a parent who has become, bitter, rude and even more stubborn as they have aged?

DementiaThough this may sound pithy, it is true that old people are like children. And sometimes, the older they get, the more child-like and/or childish they become. While this can be endearing at times, it can also be very frustrating and annoying. Not to mention, difficult to manage.

If you feel that your elder loved one is behaving badly, ask yourself this question.
Is this completely new, surprising behaviour or is this their usual inherent traits getting magnified a bit (or a lot)?

If you feel that there is a sudden and drastic change in the personality of the person, then this could be a symptom of dementia. Seek professional help. Take the loved one to a neurologist and have a proper assessment done.

Dementia is a generic term for decline in mental ability of a person. It is not a specific disease. Alzheimer’s is one of the common forms of dementia among elders. Dementia results in a loss of ability to perform even routine tasks properly and the person suffering from this may become frustrated and angry at their own inability which can then manifest itself in the form of bad behaviour.

If on the other hand, the traits exhibited have always been inherent in the person, except that it is coming to the fore more often and more forcefully, then it could be due to other factors.

In both cases, a lot of patience, tolerance, love and care are needed. Here are few tips for handling such situations:

1. Try and identify the cause(s) for their frustration.

2. Help them in tasks they are having difficulty with.

3. Where possible assist them in finding ways by which they can remain independent, rather than taking up those tasks yourself. For example,

  • If they are constantly forgetting things, get them a board on which they can write things they need to remember and allow them to use it to supplement their memory.
  • If they are forgetting dates and seasons, get them a big calendar that they can refer to regularly.
  • If they are misplacing things, help declutter their living environment and designate places for the things they misplace. For example, a decorative and distinct keyholder can ensure that they hang all the keys there. A spectacle stand kept within ready reach can help them remember to leave their specs in the same place most of the time.
  • If they are getting lost, buy them a wearable GPS tracker. This may not help them but will help you ensure that they don’t wander away and get lost.

4. If they are abusive or physically threatening, then get them to sit down and explain why such behaviour is disturbing to you and ask them how you can make them happier. If that does not work, you can switch to expressing your displeasure at being abused and take certain actions to ensure that they get the message that you will not tolerate bad behaviour. For example, you can move out of the room saying “I am not going to come back till you calm down and behave properly”. If they get physically violent, get support.

5. If they are suspicious of you, don’t take it personally. Many times, you are the only person they are interacting with and so you become the easiest target to vent out all their frustration, anger and suspicion. If they are worried about monetary issues, keep their bank passbooks and other asset related papers somewhere close to them, so they can go through them whenever they want and reassure themselves.

Each case is unique. The main thing to remember is that you don’t have to face it all alone. Get help. Talk to your friends and family. Enlist their support. Talk to fellow caregivers. Join a self-help group. Approach NGOs that are working with elders.

Above all, tell yourself that their behaviour is not a reflection of their opinion of you. Don’t let your self-esteem suffer. All the best!