Rewards of Caregiving: Caring for an older, ill or disabled adult. Tips for making your job easier.
Being a caregiver can be challenging and stressful but caregivers also describe their role as very meaningful. Here are a few of the many rewards that you may experience when caring for a loved one.
You may gain new skills:
*You may learn to be more organized and to plan ahead.
*You may learn to speak your concerns and needs more clearly.
*You may discover strengths and skills you did not know you had.
You may develop new and lasting friendships:
*You accomplish more and feel less alone when you connect with others who face the same challenges.
*Caregivers benefit by sharing their concerns, information and solutions with others.
*To find caregiver support groups, call your local social service, senior citizen agencies or faith community. Join or create an online support or discussion group.
You may learn to find joy in small pleasures:
*Sharing meals, walks or sunsets can give you precious time for talking, laughing and getting to know more about each other.
*You have the chance to build memories that will last a lifetime.
Caregiving offers you a chance to give back to someone important in your life:
Caring for others:
*Can renew or heal your relationship with the person.
*Can boost your own spirits.
*Can help family members bond as they share caregiver tasks.
*Is a value we can model for others including our children.
You can learn about yourself and your limits:
*You cannot do everything for another person but you can learn to ask others for help.
*Family, friends, neighbors, volunteers and professional caregivers can help with caregiving tasks such as:
-Dressing, transportation, feeding, medical or personal care.
-Grocery shopping, housework and meal preparation.
-Providing you respite or time off.
*Senior centers and adult day centers can offer daytime respite.
*Some assisted living and nursing facilities offer short-term overnight stays to give caregivers a break.
You can learn about taking care of yourself too:
*Taking care of your needs is an important aspect of caring for another. Your ability to give care is only as good as your health allows.
*Make sure you are eating well, getting enough rest, physical activity and emotional support.
*See your health care provider regularly.
*Arrange for respite so that you can stay healthy too.
Caregiving is an opportunity:
*To say: thank you, you are valuable to me, I love you, I care about you and I will be here for you.
*To help someone as you wish to be helped.
*To help maximize the person’s independence and dignity.
*To be there as a caring companion.
The rewards of caregiving can be many but caregiving holds many challenges and it is important to get support. To find resources for older adults and caregivers, visit the Eldercare Locater at http://www.eldercare.gov on the Internet or call 1-800-677-1116 to find services in your area.
Disclaimer: Being a caregiver is not an easy thing. Take a deep breath and hang on. It is one of the most rewarding experiences that you will ever have.