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10 Life Hacks for Caregivers

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Be the Daughter Again!

10 Ways to Take Care of Yourself While Caring for Someone Else 

Millions of Americans take care of a friend or family member with a serious health condition. Being a caregiver is a labor of love, and it can be stressful. Here are 10 helpful hints for reducing stress, so you can be an effective caregiver and still have a little time for yourself.

1. Plan Out Medications

Start by making a visual chart to organize all medicines, vitamins and supplements that your care recipient takes. Include notes on dosage, its purpose, when to take it, and any special instructions. You could go another step and include the prescribing doctor’s name and phone number, and the date to order refills. At least once a week, fill up medication dispenser(s) with all daily medications. Categorize them by times, such as morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime. Include any pictures or visual references that help you and your loved one remember what, when and how to take them, such as a sun for “morning” or a depiction of what the pill looks like in shape, size and color (for example, a large pink circle or a small white and red oval).

See more ideas for organizing meds here.

2. Schedule Grocery Delivery

Many grocery stores offer online ordering and free delivery. Take advantage of this service so you can save the time you would be running errands to spend time with your loved one, or take some extra time for yourself.

3. Order from a Trusted Online Pharmacy

Similar to grocery delivery, many registered pharmacies offer online prescription refills, call-ins, and drive-through pickup service. You can even order online and have medications sent by mail. Be sure to use a registered pharmacy that you have vetted, as some rogue or scam sites have popped up recently. If you are in doubt, read more about choosing a safe online pharmacy.

4. Hire a Cleaning Service

Hire a cleaning company for your home, or your loved one’s home so you are not busy housekeeping on top of everything else. Caregivers often straddle two households and cleaning can be a lot to keep up with. Professional cleaning companies offer deep-cleaning services. Even if you pay for a service once a month, or every few weeks, it can offer peace of mind that one more thing is off your plate.

5. Recruit Others

Caring for an older family member often requires teamwork. For example: one sibling might be local and take on primary caregiving responsibilities, while a long-distance caregiver can also have an important role. Long-distance caregivers can help by handling things online—for example, researching health problems or medicines, paying bills, or keeping family and friends updated. Don’t underestimate the value of a phone and email contact list to help you easily delegate responsibilities or share updates.

6. Schedule Family Meetings

Start by defining the caregiving responsibilities. You could set up a family meeting and, if it makes sense, include the care recipient in the discussion. This is best done when there is not an emergency. A calm conversation about what kind of care is wanted and needed now, and what might be needed in the future, can help avoid a lot of confusion. Agree in advance how each family members’ efforts can complement one another, so that you can be an effective caregiving team. Ideally, each of you will be able to take on tasks best suited to your skills or interests.

7. Take Time Off

Think about your schedule and how it might be adapted to give you some respite from your primary caregiving responsibilities. Be realistic about how much you can do, what you are willing to do, and don’t be afraid to schedule breaks for yourself. For example, you might coordinate holiday and vacation times with other family members, or call in home health aides. Remember that over time, caregiving responsibilities may need to be revised to reflect changes in your or your loved one’s situation.

8. Call in Home Health

Your parent(s) or the person you care for may need increasing help to continue to live in their own home. Arrange for professional caregivers, such as home health, nursing aides, or companion care assistants to complement your caregiving responsibilities. Some people find it hard to have paid caregivers in the house, but most also say that the assistance is invaluable. If you are reluctant, remember that an in-home aide may leave you more energy to devote to caregiving, as well as some time for yourself. You can also try it for a short time, and then decide.

9. Seek Support

Don’t forget to ask for emotional support from your spouse, or close friends. Words of appreciation, encouragement, and the simple act of listening may not seem like much, but they can make a world of difference. You can also seek out local support groups for caregivers, or join online forums. Having someone to talk with, vent, or just to hear encouraging words from can help you keep going when you start to feel burnt out.

10. Create a Plan

In time, the person you’re caring for may need to move to an assisted living or nursing home. If that happens, you can contact a navigation agency to help you select an appropriate senior living solution. CareMATRIX Senior Living Navigators offer a free service with a completely personal approach:

  • We get to know you and your loved one’s needs
  • Then we help identify a range of appropriate living and/or care arrangements
  • CareMATRIX coordinates and accompanies you on all tours
  • And we follow up with you and the care staff to assure long-term success

mother daughter
If it’s time for a transition, work with someone who cares. From assisted living to memory care options, contact CareMATRIX to help you navigate what’s next. Serving clients in Omaha, Nebraska and the greater metro area.

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