7 Secrets Of Stress Free Elderly Care
My experience as a caregiver begun when I moved into a new neighborhood and realized that a couple next door were feeling the effects of age and could only perform limited tasks even though they were still quite independent. I would prepare them meals, go on errands to obtain medication, flowers and even house shopping for them. When they needed immense assistance, I organized for a nurse who would help when I was away. However, my responsibilities did not change, I would still do the things that needed me the most. To be honest, the whole process was new to me and wasn’t a walk in the park. For starters, here are some secrets to prepare yourself for caring for the elderly.
Develop Constructive Communication Skills
One important tool for every caregiver is the means or channel of presenting oneself; the basic step to effective caregiving is communicating with the elderly person. In most instances you may be taking care of someone with impaired hearing or poor expression, it is therefore vital that you develop a clear, assertive and constructive means of communication. One important factor in effective communication is for you to establish a rapport with the elderly person; a cordial relationship that may surpass professionalism but needs to be limited to set boundaries.
Here are some basic tips for constructive communication in caregiving:
- Encourage the expression of feelings. By sharing your thoughts and ideas, you give the person a good chance of telling you how they feel about your work, what to improve on and how best to take care of them.
- Paying attention to non-verbal expressions such as observing their bodily reactions, the establishment of eye contacts will be significant in helping you understand how best to know their needs and meet them.
- Start the conversation; this is vital as the first step for you to establish a conversing relationship with the elderly person since most of them may be unwell and less talkative.
- Be an ardent listener; this may be essential in taking care of extremely weak persons or with unstable mental conditions. In such situations, being much talkative may deter the person from expressing their innermost needs since it a show of lack of concern and consideration.
- Improve physical expressions such as stroking the hands of the elderly person as a sign of care, giving light kisses on the cheek or forehead for goodbyes and goodnights; this is a sign of love, making them trust you with their feelings and thoughts.
- Be informed. An elderly person is much more sensitive to words and the happenings around them, this may force you to be informed of their preferences on subjects of discussion and how to carry out yourself when around them.
Identify and Plan on Meeting the Activities for Daily Living Effectively
A necessity for the elderly’s dignity is addressing their physical, emotional and social well-being. As a beginner, it is important that you first identify the activities for daily living of the elderly person; this is often an ignored essential in taking care of someone barely able. Some of the basic needs that you should identify are their ability to feed themselves, ability to move in instances such as moving in and out of bed. Identify if they can dress by themselves, take baths or shower on their own, keeping and maintain their hygiene in grooming, shaving or styling their hair, brushing, using the toilet correctly. It also vital to identify activities such as how to manage their financial lives, doing shopping and maintaining the home. The scope of your work is based on the inability of the persons to commit to these daily activities hence identifying them before you start administering care is essential.
One other factor is how to meet these needs effectively. This may require you to plan on how to administer care while considering the preferences of the elderly person. A virtue to consider in addressing the daily needs of the elderly is being flexible, dynamic and adaptive to the needs. Not only do you need to adjust your schedule but also consider checking on the quality of care you administer, you may need to change the way you view and do certain things and put their basics before your way or knowledge. The elderly, mostly sick ones have dynamic wants that may prove challenging hence identifying them is a necessity before starting to administer care. In some instances, others may have patterns and established ways of doing things, hence you may have to adapt and give quality care with their best interests put forward.
Learn on Taking Care of Yourself.
In as much as you may prioritize your caregiving work, you may need to learn on giving yourself some time off and reassess your needs. Most often you will forget about your own needs which may lead to stress, being depressed and developing other health complications. It is vital to find a balance between your work and the social, emotional and physical aspects of your life since they largely contribute to the quality of care that you’ll accord. A subtle mental condition is important in caregiving since the elderly are very sensitive to the feelings portrayed by their caregivers; negative expressions may impact the health of the people you’ll be taking care of more so for persons with cardiac disorders. It is also necessary that you understand the costs of caregiving on your family or social work as you may need to take time off, cut back on the hours of work and pass on promotions to be with your loved ones. Taking time off may be a bit of an issue based on the fact that the elderly person you may be taking care of is unable to have fun or be back on their feet as youthful beings, the problem comes when guilt is associated to it which is imminent as you’ll form emotional attachment with the person you’re taking care of. You may need to turn to yoga or meditation or just out with friends to cut out the stress and modalities of work.
Taking good care of yourself is also important as a caregiver is also vital to avoid the incidence of being deprived of sleep, developing poor eating habits and missing medical care appointments. You may need to identify personal barriers such as attitudes and beliefs that pertain your work, manage stress to avoid burn out majorly through balancing personal life with your profession, seeking social support, setting health goals, getting connected with other experienced caregivers and focusing on what you can accord the elderly person without straining any aspect of your life. To effectively administer care, you need to have a clear mind of the work you are doing and avoid bringing unnecessarily your personal health, social or emotional issues as it may affect the elderly person as well.
Adjust your schedule.
With your new responsibility at hand, you have to make more than just mare changes to your schedule and daily routines if you are to pull this off. You have to acknowledge the fact that you have additions in your routine and they as well need unprofaned attention. This may go way into your time and you have to give up a few things to create time for whoever you are taking care of. If you are to be any better in caregiving, you have to go back to the drawing board, then allocate time and maybe even come up with a timetable just in case. This, however, should not be an excuse to cut other people off or ignore your personal life completely, all it takes is a careful plan. You can’t afford blames especially at the workplace, just because you are a caregiver somewhere!
While caregiving is an open area, one of the secrets to doing a good job is to have boundaries. Some people prefer to take care of the males, other females and others are not the choosy types. Setting boundaries always work, since you will only commit to a person who fits into your scoop and you are bound to give utmost care. Healthy boundaries are important. A caregiver with clear boundaries will know where personal needs to end and other people’s needs commence. Have realistic boundaries that are clearly defined and be firm to them. Let everybody know your stand, and how you like to do your things and in what manner. This is key when caregiving. Sit down and have those boundaries that are not negotiable and cannot be changed in any given situation. However, put into consideration that progress is very limited when it comes to aging and sometimes, you may need to compromise a few principals or even make some major changes if you are to get it right as a caregiver. It’s not common to tell when a person will need extra care, or when an emergency arises. Either way, just make sure your boundaries provide some options, for the sake of such cases.
Learn to say no, especially when the challenge is much more than your capabilities. This way, you will not have to strain when caregiving.
Do some research, make consultations and learn to ask for help.
Caregiving is a multi-faceted kind of task and certain skills are needed. For instance, medical skills and interpersonal skills are just but to mention a few skills that apply to the elderly. Doing a lot of research before presuming caregiving duties sets your mind towards the task and at the same time, equips you with the knowledge of what to expect and how to handle certain situations. The more research you undertake the more you will be prepared before setting foot on the caregiving road.
As a caregiver, you should be able to know that some diseases or physical conditions require more care than others. For instance, my friend Jim was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. This is usually a notoriously long caregiving job and needs more attention. On the other hand, a person with one broken arm is a little independent and can do a lot on thereon. You would know this if you are a caregiver who does research.
Looking for extra help isn’t a sign of defeat. It simply means you want the best services offered to however you are looking after. For special medical care, you can seek help from a professional medical caregiver. Seek help from professionals or people who have undergone similar experiences will be a total boost to your caregiving services.
Identify and build a care team
As stated earlier, it’s not a weakness to find help. It can be professional help or family help. When you are planning to be a caregiver, you have to come up with a small team, usually made up of at most five people to help you. This is dependent on the condition of the person who needs the care. Some elderly may have special medical attentions, this calls for a professional medical giver in your team. Others have financial problems and need a consultant. On the other hand, some elderly, especially those from our families need loved ones to take care of them, this means you can organize your family member to form an even broader team than will caregiver all the time. Friends can also be important; they will offer help when you have to handle other businesses or when you are doing some shopping. If you are to include your friends and neighbors in your caregiving team, you should carefully evaluate them.